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B.D., LITT.D., HON. D.D. (GLASG.), 











" For heaven s akr, buy two books : KANT S Fundamental Principles 
of the Metaphysic of Morals, and KAMI S Critical Examination of tbc 
Practical Reason. KANT is not a light of the world, but a. whole solar 
system at once." JEAN PAUL KICHTER. 

First Edition of this Translation 1X73 

Sixth Edition 1900. 

Reprinted by Photographic Process 1948 and 1954 



THIS volume contains the whole of Kant s works on 
the General Theory of Ethics. It consists of four 
parts : 

I. A complete translation of the Grundlegung zur 
Metaphysik der Sitten. This work was first published 
in 1785. 

II. A complete translation of the Kritik tier Prak- 
tischen Vernunft (first published in 1788). 

III. A translation of the General Introduction to 
the Metaphysical Elements of Moral Philosophy (Meta- 
physische Anfangsgriinde der Sittenlehre], and of the 
Preface and Introduction to the Metaphysical Elements 
of Ethics (Metaph. Anfangsgriinde der Tugendlehre] . 

IV. The first portion of Die Religion innerhalb der 
Grenzen der blossen Vernunfty otherwise named Philoso- 
phische Religionslehre. This portion was first published 

1 I.e. "Religion, so far as it lies within the limits of Reason 
alone"; not "pure Reason," as some German and perhaps all English 


by Kant himself separately (in 1792), and it appears 
to me to be indispensable to a complete view of Kant s 
Ethics. The remainder of the work (first edition, 
1793) does not come within the sphere of Ethics 

I have added, in an appendix, a translation of 
Kant s essay Ueber ein vermeintes Recht aus Menschen- 
liebe zu liigen (1797) : Werke, ed. Rosenkr., vol. vii., 
which is interesting as throwing further light on 
Kant s application of his principles. 

The first of these treatises and half of the second 
were translated by Mr. Semple (Edinburgh, 1836 ; 
reprinted 1869) in connexion with the greater part 
of the Metaphysik der Sitten (which is concerned 
with the discussion of particular virtues and vices). 
Mr. Semple has also translated (in a distinct volume) 
the Religion u. s. w. 

The edition which I have used is that of Kant s 
whole works, by Rosenkranz and Schubert, vol. viii. 
of which contains the Grundlegung and the Kritik, and 
vol. x. the Religion. For convenience of reference to 
the original, I have given at the top of each page the 
corresponding pages of Rosenkranz edition. It is not 

writers on the history of philosophy have it. Kant himself, indeed 
writes "reiner" in one place (p. GO, note); but this is, doubtless, a 
slip, if not a printer s error. Slips of the same kind are frequent, as 
mv foot-notes show. 


very accurately printed ; and where the errors are 
obvious, I have silently corrected them ; others I have 
noticed in foot-notes. Many of these errors seem to 
have been handed down through all editions from the 
first. Hartenstein s edition is more carefully revised, 
and I have referred to it and to Kirchmann s in cases 
of doubt. Kant s grammatical errors, partly provin 
cialisms, partly due to his age, are usually corrected 
by Hartenstein. but silently, which is a somewhat 
questionable proceeding in an editor. Amongst these 
errors are : uncertainty in the use of the indicative 
and conjunctive ; "an almost thoroughgoing misuse 
of prepositions" (Hartenstein); and irregularities in 
the gender of substantives. His use of "vor" for 
* fiir" has been generally corrected by editors : where 
"vor" remains, the reader must remember that its 
retention is a matter of judgment. 

I have to express my obligation to Professor Selss 
for his kindness in revising the proofs, and for many 
valuable suggestions. 

The Memoir prefixed will, it is hoped, prove 



IN this edition some corrections have been made. 

The Portrait prefixed is from a photograph of an 
oil-painting in the possession of Grafe and Unzer, 
booksellers, of Konigsberg. It is inferior, as a work 
of art, to the portrait engraved in the former edition ; 
but as it represents Kant in the vigour of his age, 
and, unlike the former, has never appeared in any 
book r readers will probably be pleased with the sub 
stitution. I possess also a copy of a rare full-length 
silhouette, photographic copies of which can be 

My notes are in square brackets. 



MEMOIR. . xiii 







OF MORALS, .......... 23 

Autonomy of the Will the Supreme Principle of Morality, . 59 
Heteronomy of the Will the source of all Spurious Prin 
ciples of Morality, . ib. 

Classification of all Principles of Morality which can be 

founded on the Conception of Heteronomy, ... 60 




The Concept of Freedom is the Key that explains the Auto 
nomy of the Will, ib. 

Freedom must be presupposed as a Property of the Will of all 

Rational Beings, ........ 66 

Of the Interest attaching to the Ideas of Morality, . . 67 
How is a Categorical Imperative possible ? . . . .73 

Of the Extreme Limits of all Practical Philosophy, . . 75 

Concluding Remark, 83 




PREFACE, .... .... .87 

INTRODUCTION, ...... . . 101 

Of the Idea of a Critical Examination of Practical Reason, . ib. 


BOOK 1. 



I. Of the Deduction of the Principles of Pure Practical 

Reason, . . . . . . . . .1:11 

II. Of the Right of Pure Reason in its Practical Use to an 
Extension which is not possible to it in its Specu 
lative Use, 140 


Of the Typic of the Pure Practical Judgment, . . . 1-V.t 


Critical Examination of the Analytic of Pure Practical Reason, ] S 2 









Antinomy of Practical Reason, ..... 20!) 
If ./Critical Solution of the Antinomy, .... 210 

I. Of the Primacy of Pure Practical Reason in its Union 

with the Speculative Reason, 21(i 

IV. The Immortality of the Soul a Postulate of Pure Practical 
/*-* ^ Reason, ......... 218 

( V/ The Existence of God a Postulate of Pure Practical 

Reason, . . . . . . . . . 220 

VI. Of the Postulates of Pure Practical Reason generally, . 229 

VII. How is it possible to conceive an Extension of Pure 
Reason in a Practical point of view, without its 
Knowledge as Speculative being enlarged at the 
same time ? 2. U 

VIII. Of Belief from a Requirement of Pure Reason, . . 240 

IX. Of the Wise Adaptation of Man s Cognitive Faculties to 

his Practical Destination, ..... 240 



CONCLUSION, . ... 2i>0 





I. Of the Relation of the Faculties of the Human Mind to 

the Moral Laws. ....... ib. 

II. Of the Conception and the Necessity of a Metaphysic of 

Ethics 270 

III. Of the Subdivision of a Metaphysic of Morals, . . 274 

IV. Preliminary Notions belonging to the Metaphysic of 

Morals. ......... 277 







I. Of the Original Capacity for Good in Human Nature, . 332 

II. Of the Propensity to Evil in Human Nature, . . 335 

III. Man is by Nature Bad, 339 

IV. Of the Origin of the Evil in Human Nature, . . 347 
[V.]* On the Restoration of the Original Capacity for Good to 

its Full Power, 352 

*So marked in Kant s first edition. 


I. On a supposed Right to Tell Lies from Benevolent 

Motives, . . ...... ib. 

II. On the Saying " Necessity has no Law," . . . 365 

INDEX, ... 367 


IMMANUEL KANT was born in Konigsberg on the 22nd 
of April, 1724, thirteen years after Hume, and four 
teen after Reid. His family was of Scottish origin, 
his grandfather having been one of the many Scotch 
men who emigrated from Scotland at the end of the 
seventeenth century, some settling in Prussia, and 
some in Sweden ; and he is said to have been him 
self the first to change the spelling of the name from 
Cant, which he did in order to avoid the mispronun 
ciation Zant. His father was a saddler in modest, if 
not humble, circumstances. Both parents were persons 
of simple and sincere piety. Kant himself, although 
he did not sympathize with their religious views, bears 
the strongest testimony to the practical effect of their 
religion on their life. " Although," said he, speaking 
warmly, the religious ideas of that time, and the 
notions of what was called virtue and piety, were far 
from being distinct and satisfactory, yet such persons 
had the root of the matter in them. Let men decry 
pietism as they may, the people who were in earnest 
with it were honourably distinguished. They pos 
sessed the highest that man can possess that calm, 
that serenity, that inward peace which is not dis 
turbed by any passion. No trouble, no persecution 


dismayed them ; no contest had the power to stir 
them up to anger or hostility : in a word, even the 
mere observer was involuntarily compelled to respect 
them. I still remember," added he, li how a quarrel 
once broke out between the harness-makers and the 
saddlers about their respective privileges. My father 
suffered considerably ; nevertheless, even in conversa 
tion amongst his own family he spoke about this quarrel 
with such forbearance and love towards his opponents, 
and with such firm trust in Providence, that, although 
I was then only a boy, I shall never forget it. Of 
his mother, especially, he ever retained a tender and 
grateful memory, saying, " I shall never forget my 
mother, for she planted and fostered the first germ 
of good in me : she opened my heart to the impres 
sions of nature, she awoke and enlarged my thoughts, 
and her teaching has always had an enduring and 
wholesome influence on my life." She died when he 
was only thirteen, and even in his later years he could 
scarcely restrain his emotion when he related to his 
intimate friends how she had sacrificed her own life 
through her devotion to a friend. 1 Kant strongly 
resembled his mother in features and in his singularly 
contracted chest. 

1 The circumstances are worth recording- here : This friend had 
fallen into a fever in consequence of being abandoned by her betrothed 
lover, to whom she was deeply attached. She could not be induced 
to swallow the nauseous draughts prescribed for her, and Kant s 
mother, who nursed her, having failed in her attempt at persuasion, 
thought to succeed by setting the example of taking the medicine 
herself. When she had done so, she was seized with nausea and 
shivering, and at the same time observing spots on her friend s body, 
which she took for fever-spots or petechiae, her imagination was 
excited, thinking that she had caught the infection. She was seized 
with fever the same day, and died a few days after. 


At ten years of age Kant was sent to the Collegium 
Fridericianum, where he continued for seven years. 
Here he applied himself chiefly to classical studies, 
and learned to write Latin with ease and fluency. 
Of Greek he does not seem to have ever read much. 

Amongst his schoolfellows was David Ruhnken, 
and these two, with a third, named Kunde, read their 
favourite authors together, and laid their plans for the 
future, all three proposing to devote themselves to 
classical literature. Ruhnken actually attained high 
distinction in this field. At the age of sixteen Kant 
passed to the University, where he applied himself 
chiefly to mathematics and philosophy, the instruc 
tion in his favourite subject, the ancient classics, being 
inadequate. He had entered himself as a theological 
student, and, as was then the practice with such 
students in Prussia, he occasionally preached in the 
neighbouring churches. Indeed, he had completed his 
theological course when he finally gave up that line of 
study. No doubt his tastes had been long turning in 
a different direction ; but the immediate cause of his 
decision seems to have been the failure of his appli 
cation for a subordinate post in a school, such posts 
being usually the first step to ecclesiastical appoint 

During the latter part of his residence at the Uni 
versity he had been obliged to eke out his scanty 
means by giving instruction in classics, mathematics, 
and natural philosophy to some of his fellow-students, 
for whom the lectures of the professors were too diffi 
cult ; but the little that he could earn in this way was 
insufficient for his support, when by his father s death 
(1746) he was thrown altogether on his own resources. 


He therefore sought and obtained employment as a 
resident tutor in families of distinction. He was thus 
engaged for nine years, and, according to his own can 
did confession in later years, there was hardly ever a 
tutor with a better theory or a worse practice. How 
ever that may be, he certainly gained the affection of 
his pupils, and ,the respect of their parents. At the 
beginning of this period he published his first work 
an Essay on the estimation of vis viva ; and towards 
the end of it his second a brief discussion of the 
question whether the length of the day has undergone 
any change, a question which had been proposed by 
the Berlin Academy as the subject for a prize essay. 
Kant argues that the tides must have the effect of 
retarding the earth s rotation, and he enters into a 
rough calculation of the amount of this retardation, 
his first step to a conjectural approximation being an 
estimate of the effect of the impulse of the water on 
the whole east coast of the American continent. His 
suggestion was sound 1 and sagacious ; but he overrated 
vastly the amount of the effect. He inferred that the 
day had lengthened by about 1J S in two thousand 
years. According to Delaunay, the actual amount of 
retardation is I 8 in 200,000 years. This result is based 
on historical facts (the record of eclipses). Kant s was 
a purely physical calculation, and for this he did not 

1 See an essay by tlie present writer on the Theory of the Tides 
in the Philosophical Magazine, January, 1870 ; February, 1871 ; and 
January, 1872 ; and in the Quarterly Journal of Mathematics, March, 
1872; and on the amount of the retardation, Hermathena, 1882. 
(These essays have now been published in a volume.) Kant subse 
quently thought of another cause, which might operate in the oppo 
site direction, viz. the condensation of the interior parts of the earth. 
He did not, however, publish the suggestion. 


possess sufficient data. On account of this inevitable 
lack of precision, he did not offer his essay in com 
petition for the prize. 

The same essay contained another very remark 
able suggestion in explanation of the fact that the 
moon always presents the same face to the earth. In 
fact, if the moon were originally in a fluid state, the 
tides produced in it by the earth (which would be very 
great) would similarly retard its rotation until the fluid 
surface attained a position of equilibrium relatively to 
the earth, i. e. until the moon rotated round its axis 
in the same time that it revolved round the earth. 
This speculation has been recently brought forward 
as novel. 

The conjecture as to the moon s original fluidity 
was no isolated one in Kant s mind ; on the contrary, 
he speaks of it as part of a general theory of the 
heavens, which he was about to publish. In the fol 
lowing year (1755), accordingly, he published (anony 
mously) an important work of about 200 pages, 
entitled, A General Theory of the Heavens ; or, Essay on the 
Mechanical Origin of the Structure of the Universe, on the 
Principles of Newton. This work is an elaborate exposi 
tion of the Nebular Theory, commonly called by the 
name of Laplace, although Laplace s Systeme du Monde 
was not published till forty years later (1796). The 
only considerable differences are, first, that Laplace 
supposes the condensation of the diffused matter to be 
the result of cooling ; and, secondly, that he postulates 
an original movement of rotation ; whereas Kant 
thought he could account for both condensation and 
rotation from the two elementary forces of attraction 
and repulsion. It is not easy to say whether Laplace 



was aware of Kant s priority. He asserts, indeed, that 
he was not aware of any theory except Buffon s (a 
rather extravagant one); but then Laplace never did 
acknowledge that he borrowed anything from anybody 
else. Even when he used the mathematical discoveries 
of contemporary Frenchmen, he introduces them as if 
they were his own ; how much more if lie adopted a 
suggestion of an anonymous German philosopher. If 
lie really did calculate on the ignorance of his reader, 
the event lias justified his expectation ; for even those 
writers who mention Kant s priority speak as if Kant 
had merely thrown out a hint, while Laplace had 
developed a theory ; whereas, in fact, Kant wrote a 
treatise on the subject, and Laplace only a few pages. 1 
Kant begins by defending his attempt against the 
possible objections of those who might regard it as an 
endeavour to dispense with the necessity for a Divine 
Author. Such persons, he says, appear to suppose 
that nature, left to its own laws, would produce only 
disorder, and that the adaptations we admire indicate 
the interference of a compelling hand, as if nature 
were a rebellious subject that could be reduced to 
order only by compulsion, or else were an indepen 
dent principle, whose properties are uncaused, and 
which God strives to reduce into the plan of His pur 
poses. But, answers he, if the general laws of matter 
are themselves a result of supreme wisdom, must they 
not be fitted to carry out its wise design ? In fact, 

1 I do not suppose it likely that Laplace should have seen Kant s 
anonymous book ; but it must be remembered that Kant mentioned 
his theory in several publications, and probably referred to it in his 


we have here a powerful weapon in aid of Theism. 
When we trace certain beneficial effects to the regular 
working of the laws of nature, we see that these effects 
are not produced by chance, but that these laws can 
work in no other way. But if the nature of things 
were independent and necessary, what an astounding 
accident, or rather what an impossibility, would it not 
be that they should fit together just as a wise and 
good choice would have made them fit ! As this 
applies to such reasoning in general, so it applies also 
to the present undertaking. We shall find that matter 
had certain laws imposed on it, by virtue of which it 
necessarily produced the finest combinations. That 
there is a God is proved even by this, that nature, 
even in chaos, could only proceed with regularity and 

He proceeds to work out in detail the problem 
of the formation of the planets out of the originally 
diffused matter, taking into consideration the eccen 
tricities, inclinations, &c., of the planets, the rings 
of Saturn, the satellites, the comets. It is noticeable 
that he does not, like Laplace, regard the rings of 
Saturn as an illustration of his theory. On account 
of their large inclination to the ecliptic (28~), he 
thought it necessary to assign to them a different 
origin. His hypothesis was that they were pro 
duced by emanations from the planet itself, and 
he showed further (as Laplace afterwards did) 
that the ring must have a movement of rotation, 
and that in consequence of the different velocities 
belonging to different distances from the planet, its 
stability required that it should consist of several 
distinct rings. This conjecture, or rather deduction, 

b 2 


has been verified. He also conjectured, as a result of 
his hypothesis regarding the formation of the ring, 
that the greatest velocity of rotation of particles of the 
inner ring would be the same as that of the planet s 
equator. From this consideration, combined with the 
assumption that the ring conforms to Kepler s third 
law, he deduced the time of the planet s rotation. He 
drew particular attention to this as the first prediction 
of the kind. His deduction, however, has not been 
verified. Saturn s time of rotation is nearly double 
what it ought to be on Kant s theory. 1 Another con 
jecture of his, subsequently verified, was, that there 
are planets beyond Saturn. Later, he conjectured 
also the existence of a planet between Mars and 
Jupiter. 2 

Kant then extends his view to the sidereal system. 
He states that the first to suggest to him that the fixed 
stars constituted a system was Wright, of Durham. 5 
Kant develops this conception. If gravitation is a 

1 Kant assumed too hastily that Kepler s third law applies to the 
particles of the ring, which amounts to supposing that their mutual 
disturbances are negligible. Yet, considering the form of the rings, 
this is not a violent hypothesis. 

Phys. Geoffr., p. 449. 

3 Wright s work was entitled, An Original Theory; or, a New Hypo 
thesis of the Universe founded on the Laws of Nature. By Thomas "Wright, 
of Durham. London, 1750. It is singular that the speculations of 
this ingenious and original writer have been saved from oblivion in 
his own country by Kant, who was indebted for his knowledge of 
them to a German periodical. Prof. De Morgan has described Wright s 
work at some length in the Philosophical Magazine for April, 1848; 
but De Morgan s attention was drawn to it by Arago s notice in the 
Annuaire for 1842 ; and Arago, who had not seen the book, only knew 
it through Kant s reference. There is an account of Wright in the 
Gentleman s Magazine, 1793, vol. Ixiii., pt. i. 


universal property of matter, we cannot suppose the 
sun s attractive force limited to our system ; but if it 
extends to the nearest fixed star, and if the fixed stars, 
like suns, exercise a similar force around them, then 
they would, sooner or later, fall together, if not 
prevented (like the planets) by a centrifugal force. 
Hence we may conclude that all the stars of the 
firmament have their own orbital motion. If we con 
ceive our planetary system multiplied a thousand-fold, 
and the several bodies in it to be self-luminous, the 
appearance, as seen from the earth, would resemble 
that of the Milky Way. The form of the heaven of 
the fixed stars then is in great an effect of the same 
systematic arrangement as our system in little ; our 
sun with the other stars are, in short, the planets of 
a .vaster system, which is, in fact, the Milky Way. 1 
There may be many such systems, and some of these 
may appear to us as nebulae, and these being seen 
obliquely would present an elliptic form. The Milky 
Way seen from a sufficient distance would appear 
like one of these elliptic nebulae. But these systems, 
again, may be mutually related, and constitute to 
gether a still -more immeasurable system. This opens 
to us a view into the infinite field of creation, and 
gives us a conception of the work of God suitable to 
the infinity of the great Creator. If the magnitude 
of a planetary system in which the earth is as a grain 
of sand fills our understanding with wonder, with 
what amazement are we seized when we consider the 
vast multitude of worlds and systems which constitute 

1 This suggestion of Kant s anticipated Lambert s similar sugges 
tion by six years. 


the Milky Way; and how is this amazement increased 
again when we learn that all these immeasurable star 
systems are in their turn only a unit in a number 
whose limit we know not, and which is perhaps as 
inconceivably great as the former, while it is itself 


the unit of a new combination. 1 There is here a 
veritable abyss of immensity in which all human 
power of conception is lost. The wisdom, the good 
ness, the power, that are revealed are infinite, and in 
the same degree fruitful and active ; the plan of its 
revelation must, therefore, be equally infinite. He 
ventures upon the conjecture (giving his reasons) that 
nature may in course of time be again reduced to 
chaos, and again emerge like a phoenix from its 
ashes. When we contemplate nature in these suc 
cessive changes, carrying out the plan by which God 
reveals Himself in wonders that fill space and eternity, 
the mind is overwhelmed with astonishment ; but not 
satisfied with this vast yet perishable object, the soul 
desires to know more nearly that Being whose intelli 
gence and whose greatness are the source of that light 
which spreads as from a centre over all nature. With 
what awe must not the soul regard even its own 
nature, when it reflects that it shall outlive all these 
changes. U happy," he exclaims, "when amid the 
tumult of the elements and the ruin of nature it is 
placed on a height from whence it can, as it were, see 
beneath its feet the desolation of all perishable things 

1 This conception is alluded to in the Critique of Practical Reason, 
p. 376. Humboldt erroneously identifies Kant s view of the nebulae 
with that of Lambert and Halley : Cosmos (Sabine s transl.), vol. iii., 
p. 223. 


of the world. Reason could not even dare to wish for 
such happiness, but Revelation teaches us to hope for 
it with confidence. When the fetters that have bound 
us to the vanity of the creature have fallen off, the 
immortal spirit will find itself in the enjoyment of 
true happiness in communion with the Infinite Being. 
The contemplation of the harmony of universal nature 
with the will of God must fill with ever-increasing 
satisfaction the rational creature who finds himself 
united to this source of all perfection. 1 Viewed from 
this centre, nature will show on all sides nothing but 
stability and fitness ; its changes cannot interfere with 
the happiness of a creature who has reached this 
height. In sweet foretaste of this condition the soul 
can exercise its mouth in those songs of praise with 
which all eternity shall ring : 

" When nature fails, and day and night 

Divide thy works no more, 
My ever-grateful heart, Lord, 

Thy mercy shall adore. 
Through all eternity to thee 

A joyful song I 11 raise ; 
For, oh ! eternity s too short 

To utter all thy praise. " 2 ADDISON. 

Discussing the question, whether the planets are 
inhabited, he states his opinion that it would be absurd 
to deny this as to all or even most of them. But in 
the wealth of nature, in which worlds and systems are 
to the whole creation only sundust, there may well be 

1 Compare Bishop Butler s second Sermon on the Love of God, 
where he speaks of viewing the scheme of the universe in the mind 
that projected it. 

~ Quoted by Kant from a German translation. 


waste and uninhabited places as there are uninhabited 
wastes on our own earth. Perhaps, indeed, he adds, 
some of the planets are not yet brought into a state 
fit for habitation ; it may take thousands of years to 
bring the matter of a great planet into a steady con 
dition. Jupiter appears to be in this transition state. 
One planet may come to its perfection thousands of 
years later than another. 1 We may be sure that most 
of the planets are inhabited, and those that are not will 
be so in due time. He imagines that the further the 
planets are from the sun the more the inhabitants excel 
in liveliness and distinctness of thought. Indulging in 
fancy, he asks, Does sin exist in those worlds ? and 
suggests that perhaps the beings in the inferior planets 
may be too low to be responsible ; those in the supe 
rior planets too wise and too elevated to fall into sin, 
with the exception, perhaps, of Mars. Perhaps, he 
adds, some of these bodies are being prepared for our 
future habitation : who knows whether the satellites 
which revolve round Jupiter are destined one day to 
illumine us ? " No one, however, will base his hopes 
of the future on such uncertain fancies. When cor 
ruption has claimed its part in human nature, then 
shall the immortal spirit swiftly soar above all that is 
finite, and continue its existence in a new relation to 
the whole of nature arising from its nearer relation 
to the Supreme Being. When we gaze on the starry 
heavens with our mind filled witli such thoughts as 
have here been expressed, while all nature is at rest 
and our senses also in repose, the hidden faculties of 

1 This suggestion also has been lately developed in a popular 
manner, as a novelty. 


the immortal soul speak in a language unutterable, 
and give us conceptions which can be felt but not 
described. If there are on this planet thinking beings 
so base as to bind themselves to the service of corrup 
tion, in spite of all that draws them away from it, how 
unhappy is this globe to produce such miserable crea 
tures ! but how happy, on the other hand, that under 
conditions worthy of all acceptation a way is opened 
to them to attain to a happiness and a dignity in 
finitely beyond all the advantages which the most 
favourable arrangements- of nature can reach in all 
the bodies of the universe ! " 

The reader who is interested in Kant himself will 
readily pardon this long notice of a work to which he 
attached some importance. At its first publication it 
was dedicated to the king, Frederick the Great ; and 
the theory developed in it is frequently referred to by 
Kant in his subsequent writings, 1 for he never ceased 
to take an interest in these subjects. So late as 1785 
he wrote an essay on the volcanoes in the moon, with 
reference to an observation by Herschel. In this Paper 
he suggests a mode of accounting for the great heat of 
the sun, and (originally) of the planets. His sugges 
tion is based on the discovery of Crawford, that heat 
is developed by condensation. On the hypothesis then 
that the sun and planets were formed by the condensa 
tion of matter originally diffused through the whole 

1 In 1763 he repeated the substance of it in the treatise, Der einzig 
mogliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration des Daseyns Gottes. He 
there mentions that the former work was comparatively little known, 
as it had been published anonymously. In 1791 he caused an extract 
from it (containing what he thought worth preserving) to be appended to 
Sommer s translation of Herschel : " On the Structure of the Heavens." 


space, this heat would be a direct consequence of the 
condensation. Still later, in 1794, writing on the in 
fluence of the moon on the weather, he throws out the 
suggestion that the moon s centre of gravity may (for 
reasons which he gives) lie beyond its centre of figure 1 : 
a consequence of which would be that any air and water 
which might be upon its surface would be collected at 
the side remote from us. 

I n another instance, both Kant and Laplace might 
have had reason to say, " Pereant quiante nos nostra 
dixerunt." In 1756 Kant wrote a short Paper on the 
theory of the wihds, in which, for the first time, as 
he believed, he gave the true account of the trade 
winds and monsoons. Halley had shown that the 
effect of the sun in heating the atmosphere at the 
equator would be to cause an indraught towards the 
equator from north and south. This indraught, 
according 1;o him, naturally followed the daily course 
of the sun, and hence the easting. 2 Kant showed that 
this theory was untenable. In fact, the wind would 
tend rather to meet the sun, the region to the west 
being the cooler. Nor could a wind from such a cause 
extend with nearly equal force all round the earth. 
Kant showed further that, owing to the difference in 
the velocity of rotation between the parts near the 
equator and those near the poles, all winds that move 
from the poles towards the equator tend to become 
more and more easterly, and those that move from 
the equator towards the poles become more and more 

1 This conjecture also has been confirmed. 

2 Phil. Trans., vol. xvi. A short time previously one Dr. Lister 
propounded the singular theory that the trade winds were caused by 
the breath of the marine plant Sargasso. (Ibid., vol. xiv.) 


westerly. 1 Hence, in the northern hemisphere every 
north wind tends to become a north-east, and every 
south wind a south-west wind. In the southern hemi 
sphere, on the contrary, south winds tend to become 
south-east, and north winds north-west. He follows 
out in some detail the general principles of this circu 
lation of the atmosphere. We can thus explain, for 
instance, the monsoons of the Indian Ocean, &c., which 
blow from April to September from the south-west ; 
for when the sun is north of the equator, the wind 
blows from the equator towards these parts, and 
therefore takes a south-westerly direction.- Again, the 
current from the poles towards the equator is balanced 
by a counter-current, the heated air in the upper 
strata at the equator overflowing as it were towards 
the poles. When this descends, or overcomes the 
weaker motion of the lower strata, it becomes in the 
northern hemisphere a westerly wind, such as prevail 
between the 28th and 40th degrees of latitude. Kant 
subsequently introduced this theory into his course 
of lectures on Physical Geography, which was very 
numerously attended. Laplace propounded the same 
theory forty year s later. 

1 Kant himself says that, as far as he knew, no previous writer 
had stated this principle, and he was well read in such subjects at 
that time. It had, however, been stated by Geo. Hadley (not " Sex 
tant" Hadley) in 1735 (Phil. Trans., vol. xxxix., pub. 1738). But 
Hadley s paper attracted no attention ; and D Alembert, in his Reflec 
tions on the Causes of the Winds (1747), which obtained the prize 
offered by the Berlin Academy, rejects the heat of the sun as a cause, 
and makes all the phenomena depend on the attraction of the sun and 
moon. In the French Encyclopedic (1765, nine years after Kant s 
Paper, thirty after Hadley s), this is combined with Hadley s theory ; 
and it is suggested further that the monsoons may be due to the 
melting of snow, the exhalations from mountains, &c. 


In 1763, Kant published his Essay On the only 
possible Demonstrative Proof of the Existence of God. 
The proof developed in this Essay is founded on the 
principle that every possibility of existence presupposes 
an actually existing thing on which it depends. This 
he characterizes as a more thoroughly a priori argu 
ment than any other that has been proposed, since it 
does not assume any actual fact of existence. I need 
not explain how he develops step by step the attri 
butes of Unity, Intelligence, &c. At a later period 
he himself abandoned this line of argument. How 
ever, the greater part of the Essay is occupied with 
remarks on design in the constitution of nature, and 
with an exposition of the theory developed in the 
above-mentioned treatise on the structure of the hea 
vens. We may, he observes, argue from design, either 
as exhibited in a contingent arrangement, for example, 
in the body of an animal or in a plant ; or we may 
argue from the necessary results of the constitution of 
matter, the laws of motion, &c. The latter method 
has the great advantage of presenting the First Cause 
not merely as an architect, but as a creator. From 
this point of view he instances first the simplicity and 
harmony resulting from the geometrical conditions of 
space, e.g. that if we seek all the paths which a falling 
body would traverse either to or from the same point 
in the same time, they are found to be chords of the 
same circle. Again, he takes the manifold and har 
monious benefits resulting by necessary laws from the 
mere fact of the existence of an atmosphere. There 
may be many reasons for its existence : if we suppose 
its primary purpose to be that it should serve for 
respiration, we find that its existence leads to other 


important beneficial results. It makes clouds possible 
which intercept excessive heat, prevents too rapid cool 
ing and drying, and keeps the land supplied with the 
necessary moisture from the great reservoir of the sea. 
By causing twilight it prevents the strain on the eyes 
which would be caused by the sudden change from day 
to night. Its existence prevents rain from dropping 
with too great force, and its pressure makes sucking 
possible. If it occurs to anyone to say Oh, these are 
all the necessary results of the nature of matter, &c., 
he answers : Yes, it is just this that shows that they 
proceed from a wise Creator. He treats of the laws 
of motion from the same point of view, and then takes 
occasion to show how the laws of the planetary motions 
result from the simplest laws of matter, attraction and 

In conclusion, he remarks that while it is of the 
greatest consequence to be convinced of the existence 
of God, it is by no means necessary to have a demon 
stration of it, and those who cannot grasp the demon 
strative proof are advised to hold fast by the more 
easily apprehended proof from design. Hardly, in 
deed, he observes, would anyone stake his whole 
happiness on the correctness of a metaphysical proof, 
especially if it were opposed to the convictions of 
sense. The argument from design is more striking 
and vivid, as well as easy to the common understand 
ing, and more natural than any other. It also gives 
an idea of the wisdom and providence, &c., of God, 
which comes home and has the greatest effect in pro 
ducing awe and humility ; and it is in fine more prac 
tical than any other, even in the view of a philosopher. 
It does not, indeed, give a definite abstract idea of 


Divinity, nor does it claim mathematical certainty ; 
but so many proofs, each of great force, take posses 
sion of the soul, and the speculation may calmly 
follow since conviction has preceded a conviction 
far above the force of any subtile objections. 

In the same year in which Kant published his 
Theory of the Heavens, he issued his first metaphysical 
treatise, Principiorum Primorum Cognitionis Metaphysicce 
Nova Dilucidatio, and publicly defended it as an 
exercise prior to his obtaining permission to deliver 
lectures in the University as a " Privat-Docent." He 
forthwith commenced lecturing on mathematics and 
physics ; to these subjects he afterwards added 
lectures on philosophy, natural theology, physical 
geography, anthropology, and fortification. He had 
already so great a reputation, that at his first lecture 
the room (in his own house) was filled literally to 
overflowing, the students crowding even on the stairs. 
His lectures are thus described by the celebrated 
Herder, who attended them in the years 17621764 : 
" I have had the good fortune to know a philosopher 
who was my teacher ; he had the happy sprightliness 
of a youth, and this I believe he retains even in old 
age. His open, thoughtful brow was the seat of 
unruffled calmness and joy ; discourse full of thought 
flowed from his lips; jest and wit and humour were 
at his command ; and his lecture was the most enter 
taining conversation. With the same genius with 
which he criticized Leibnitz, Wolf, Crusius, Hume, 
and expounded the laws of Newton and Kepler, he 
would also take up the writings of Rousseau, or any 
recent discover} in nature, give his estimate of them, 
and come back again to the knowledge of nature and 


to the moral worth of man. Natural history, natural 
philosophy, the history of nations and human nature, 
mathematics, and experience these were the sources 
from which he enlivened his lecture and his conversa 
tion. Nothing worth knowing was indifferent to him ; 
no party, no sect, no desire of fame or profit had the 
smallest charm for him compared with the advance 
ment and elucidation of the truth. He encouraged 
and urged to independent thought, and was far from 
wishing to dominate. This man, whom I name with 
the greatest gratitude and reverence, is Immanuel 
Kant ; his image stands pleasantly before me." His 
lectures attracted many hearers of mature age, and 
visitors to Konigsberg even prolonged their stay .for 
the purpose of attending them. At the same time 
he continued to act as tutor to young men specially 
entrusted to his care, who lived with him. 

He had to wait fifteen years in the position of 
" Privat-Docent " before obtaining a professorship. 
He had, indeed, been offered a professorship by the 
Government before this ; but it was almost the only 
chair which he felt he could not worthily fill the 
Chair of Poetry. This involved not only the censor 
ship of new poems, but the composition of poems for 
academic celebrations, and Kant declined the office. 
In the following year he was appointed sub-librarian 
at the modest salary of 62 thalers. This was his first 
official appointment (cet. 42). Four years later he 
was nominated to the professorship of Logic and 
Metaphysics, 1 with an income (from all sources) of 

1 Not of Mathematics, as is sometimes stated. The Chair of 
Mathematics was offered to Kant ; but Buck, the professor of Logic 


400 thalers. This was ultimately increased to 620. 
This was of course exclusive of fees from students. 
He inaugurated his professorship by defending his 
essay, De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et 
principles. In this he distinguishes the sensible ap 
prehension of phenomena from the Concept of the 
Understanding, just as in the Critique of Pure Reason. 
He shows, precisely as in the latter work, that space 
and time are forms of the intuitions of sense. 

As professor, he continued to lecture in the same 
wide circle of subjects as before. The lectures on 
physical geography and anthropology were especially 
popular. He was fond of studying nature, but espe 
cially human nature in all its phases, and took great 
pleasure in reading books of travel, although he never 
travelled. Having an excellent memory and a lively 
power of imagination, he could distinctly picture to 
himself, even in minute detail, the several objects 
described. On one occasion he described Westminster 
Bridge, its form, dimensions, &c., with such detail 
and distinctness, that an Englishman who was present 
thought he was an architect, and had spent some 
years in London. At another time he spoke of Italy 
as if he had known it from long personal acquaint 
ance. So popular were his lectures, that we find Von 
Zedlitz, the Prussian Minister, writing from Berlin to 
say that he is reading with pleasure an imperfect 
manuscript report of the lectures on Physical Geo 
graphy, and requesting Kant to favour him with a 

and Metaphysics, desired it, and Kant himself preferred the latter 
chair. Buck, therefore, became professor of Mathematics, and Kant 
took his place. 


correct copy. These lectures were published in 1802. 
The lectures on Anthropology had appeared in 1798. 
Both works are written in an extremely interesting 
and popular style ; and those on Anthropology are 
full of entertaining remarks and illustrative anecdotes, 
not without humour. Thus, speaking of the emotions 
that nature employs for the promotion of health, 
which are chiefly laughing and weeping, he remarks 
that anger also conduces to health, if one can indulge 
in a good scolding without fear of opposition ; and, 
in fact, many a housewife gets no hearty exercise, 
except in scolding her children and servants : and 
provided these take it patiently, a pleasant feeling of 
fatigue spreads itself through the organism. This sort 
of exercise, however, he adds, is not without danger, 
as the object of the scolding may possibly resist. 
Even when lecturing on Metaphysics, Kant is said to 
have been lucid and interesting. When the difficulty 
of his writings was complained of, he used to say that 
he wrote for thinkers by profession, and with these 
technical expressions had the advantage of brevity. 
Besides, said he, it flatters the vanity of the reader to 
find perplexities and obscurities here and there, which 
he can solve by his own acuteness. But in his lectures 
he endeavoured to be clear and intelligible. He 
sought, as he expressed it, to teach "not philosophy, 
but to philosophize. " In one of his letters he states that 
he was unceasingly observant of phenomena and their 
laws, even in common life, so that, from first to last, 
his hearers should not have to listen to a dry exposi 
tion, but be interested by being led to compare his 
remarks with their own observations. 

It was his custom to keep his eyes fixed on some 


particular student sitting near him, perhaps in order 
to judge from the hearer s countenance whether he 
was making himself understood. So Arago, in his 
popular lectures, used to select for the same purpose 
the most stupid-looking person in the audience, con 
tinuing his explanations until the person " fixed " 
showed signs of intelligence. With Kant, however, 
the consequences were disastrous if the student hap 
pened to have any peculiarity or defect, either in 
person or dress. One day the student thus selected 
happened to have lost a button from his coat. Kant s 
glance recurred to the vacant spot, and during the 
whole lecture his thoughts were distracted, and even 
confused, in a manner inexplicable to those who were 
not in the secret. 

He did not like to see his hearers taking notes ; 
but would say, " Put up your pencils, gentlemen." 
and would not begin until they had done so. The 
reason of this was that he thought such attempts at 
reporting interfered with their attention to the matter 
of the lecture, by fixing it on the words. Some of his 
hearers took full notes, nevertheless. 

In 1772 he formed the design of writing a Critical 
Examination of Pure Reason, Theoretical and Prac 
tical, the former part of which he hoped to complete 
in three months. The months grew to years. Six 
years later he writes that he expects it to appear 
u this summer," and that it would not be a large 
volume. It did not see the light, however, until 
1781, nine years after he had announced that it 
would be ready in three months. When this master- 
work was produced, Kant was fifty-seven years of 
a^re. He states himself that it was Hume that roused 


him from his dogmatic slumber, and compelled him 
to seek a solid barrier against scepticism. 1 

It is stated on Kant s own authority that he did 
not commit to writing a single sentence in this work 
on which he had not first asked the judgment of his 
friend Green. A man to whom Kant showed such 
deference deserves a brief notice. He was an English 
merchant, and during the American War of Indepen 
dence happened to be present when Kant, who sym 
pathized with the Americans, denounced the conduct 
of England in strong terms. Green sprang up in a 
rage, declared that Kant s words were a personal 
insult to him as an Englishman, and demanded satis 
faction. Kant replied so calmly and persuasively that 
Green shook hands with him, and they became fast 
friends, and continued so until the death of Green in 
1784 a loss which Kant deeply felt. 

Of the Critique of Pure Reason I need not here 
speak. Suffice it to say, that as Locke s attempt to 
keep the mind from "going beyond its tether" was 
followed at no long interval by the Idealism of 
Berkeley, and the annihilating Scepticism of Hume, 
so Kant s analogous attempt led in a still shorter space 
to the most complete idealism and transcendentalism. 
Indeed, his reviewers not unnaturally mistook him for 
an idealist, and Hamann called him the Prussian Hume. 

1 It may perhaps be interesting to note that both Berkeley and 
Hume produced their greatest philosophical works before the age of 
thirty. Fichte wrote his " "Wissenschaftslehre " at thirty-three. On 
the other hand, Locke and Reid, whose object was, like Kant s, to 
raise a barrier against scepticism, and to ascertain the extent and 
limits of the powers of the mind, both published their first philo 
sophical treatises after fifty. 

c 2 


Tlie work excited a lively controversy in the philoso 
phical world, hut most of the publications to which it 
gave rise have been long forgotten. Kant s fame, how 
ever, rose to the highest, and Konigsberg became a 
shrine to which students and tourists made pilgrimages. 
The Critique of Pure Reason was to be followed 
by the Metaphysical Elements of Natural Philosophy 
and of Moral Philosophy. The former appeared in 
1786, under the title MetaphysiscJie Anfangsyriindc dcr 
Naturwissenschaft. 1 The views respecting motion with 
which this treatise commences had, however, already 
been published as a programme of lectures in 1758. 
Motion is only relative to the surrounding space. 
While I sit with a ball on the table before me in the 
cabin of a ship moored in a river, I say that the ball 
is at rest ; I look out and see that the ship has been 
unmoored, and is drifting westward ; the ball then is 
moving westward. But I reflect that the earth is rotat 
ing with greater velocity eastward ; the ball then is 
moving eastward. Nay ; for the earth in its orbit is mov 
ing westward with still higher speed. The orbit itself 
is moving, I cannot tell how rapidly, nor do I know in 
what direction. In any case then it is the same thing 
whether I regard a point as moving in its space, or 
regard the space as moving and the point as at rest. 
Hence the law of the composition of motion results 
directly ; for if A be a point having a motion of one 
foot per second westward, and two feet per second 
southward, I can regard it as having only the south 
ward motion, while the space in which it is, is moving 
one foot per second eastward. At the end, therefore, 

1 Translated by Mr. Bax, in Eohn s Library, 1883. 


of one second, the point will be found two feet to the 
south ; and as its space in moving east has left it one 
foot behind, it will also be one foot west, relatively to 
its surrounding space. This is the same as if it had 
moved in the diagonal of the parallelogram. Kant 
claimed as an advantage of this proof, that it repre 
sented the resultant motion, not as an effect of the two 
motions, but as actually including them. It is in 
comparably simpler and more philosophical than the 
proof given by D Alembert and other contemporary 
mathematicians. When we treat of collision of bodies, 
this mode of viewing the matter becomes absolutely 
indispensable. If the body A is approaching the 
body B (equal to it) with a velocity of two degrees, 
we regard A as moving with a speed of one degree, 
while B and its space move one degree in the opposite 
direction. The motions being equal and opposite, the 
result of their contact is mutual rest ; but, as the space 
is moving, this rest is equivalent to a motion of the two 
bodies in contact, relative to the surrounding space, 
and in amount one degree. If the bodies are unequal 
and have unequal velocities, we have only to divide 
the velocities in the inverse proportion of the masses, 
and assign to the space the motion which we take from 
one to add to the other, and the result will again be 
mutual rest, which is equivalent to a motion of the 
bodies in contact, with a velocity equal and opposite 
to what we have assigned to the space. We can in 
this way banish altogether the notion of vis inert-ice. 

Matter could not exist unless there were both a 
repulsive force and an attractive force. If attraction 
only existed, matter would be condensed into a point; 


if repulsion only, it would be dispersed infinitely. 
The relative incompressibility of matter is nothing 
but the repulsive force emanating from points, which 
increases as the distance diminishes (perhaps inversely 
as the cube), and would therefore require an infinite 
pressure to overcome it altogether. Physical contact 
is the immediate action and reaction of incompressi 
bility. The action of matter on matter without con 
tact is what is called actio in distans, and the attraction 
of gravitation is of this kind. Both attraction and 
repulsion being elementary forces, are inexplicable ; 
but the force of attraction is not a whit more incom 
prehensible than the original repulsive force. In 
compressibility appears more comprehensible, solely 
because it is immediately presented to the senses, 
whereas attraction is only inferred. It seems at first 
sight a contradiction to say that a body can act where 
it is not ; but in fact we might rather say, that every 
thing in space acts where it is not ; for to act where it 
is, it should occupy the very same space as the thing 
acted on. To say that there can be no action without 
physical contact is as much as to say that matter can 
act only by the force of incompressibility : in other 
words, that repulsive forces are either the only forces 
of matter or the conditions of all its action, which is 
a groundless assertion. The ground of the mistake 
is a confusion between mathematical contact and 
physical contact. That bodies attract one another 
without contact, means that they approach one an 
other according to a certain law, without any force 
of repulsion being required as a condition ; and this 
is just as conceivable as that they should separate 


from one another without an attractive force being 
supposed as a condition. 1 

Kant, however, thought it conceivable that in the 
case of chemical solution there might be complete 
interpenetration or " intussusception." On this view 
of matter we may, he remarks, regard matter as 
infinitely divisible. 

The Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of 
Morals had appeared the year before the last-men 
tioned work, and was followed in 1788 by the Critical 
Examination of Practical Reason. Both these are trans 
lated in the present volume. The few remarks I 
have to offer on them will be found at the end of 
the Memoir, In 1790 was published the Critical 
Examination of the Faculty of Judgment. 

The essay on the corruption of human nature, 
which forms the third part of this volume, appeared 
in 1792 in a Berlin magazine. Four years before 
this an edict had been issued, limiting the freedom 
of the Press, and appointing special censors, whose 

1 Before reading this work of Kant s I had made a remark to the 
same effect in Sight and Touch, p. 76, with reference to the state 
ment of Hamilton and others, that Sight is a modification of Touch. 
" Contact is usually understood to mean the approach of two bodies, 
so that no space intervenes between them ; but in this sense there is 
probably no such thing as contact in nature. Physically speaking, 
bodies in contact are only at such a distance that there is a sensible 
resistance to nearer approach. Sensation by contact, then, is sensation 
by resistance ; to say, then, that sight is a modification of touch is to 
say that the antecedent of vision is the exercise or feeling of the same 
repulsive force, which is a physical hypothesis, and, considered as 
such, is in fact absurd. Between ponderable substances and light, 
contact, in the sense just specified, is either impossible or is the 
normal condition." 


buwiness was to examine as to the orthodoxy, not only 
of books, but of professors, lecturers, and theological 
candidates. The magazine in question was printed 
in Jena ; but, in order to avoid any appearance of 
underhand dealing, Kant expressly desired that his 
essay should be submitted to the Berlin licensing 
authority, who gave his imprimatur, on the ground 
that only deep thinkers read Kant s works. The 
second part of the work on the Theory of Religion 
was referred to the theological censor, who refused his 
imprimatur. Kant accordingly submitted his essay to 
the censorship of the theological faculty of Konigs- 
berg, and this unanimously sanctioned the publica 
tion, which reached a second edition in the following 
year. The Berlin censors were naturally annoyed at 
this way of escaping their decision, and the severe 
remarks in the preface did not tend to conciliate them. 
A few months afterwards Kant received an order 
from the king (Frederick William II), forbidding 
him to teach or write anything further in this man 
ner. Kant did not mention the order even to his 
intimate friends. A slip of paper, found after his 
death, contained this reflection : " To deny one s 
inner conviction is mean, but in such a case as this 
silence is the duty of a subject; and, although a man 
must say only what is true, it is not always a duty to 
say all the truth publicly." He therefore, in his reply 
to the king, declared that to avoid all suspicion 
he, "as his Majesty s most loyal subject," solemnly 
engaged to refrain from writing or lecturing on 
religion, natural or revealed. The words, "as your 
Majesty s most loyal subject," were inserted with the 
intention of limiting his engagement to the life of 


the king, and on the death of Frederick William in 
1797, Kant regarded hhnself as free, and published 
his Contest of the Faculties (i.e. of the Academical 

In 1797 Kant ceased to lecture publicly. In the 
same year he published his Metaphysical Elements of 
Morals, which treats of the several virtues and vices 
in detail, 1 and Metaphysical Elements of Law. After the 
publication of these, he seems to have been regarded 
as a counsellor to be consulted in all difficulties, and 
an authority in all questions of conscience. The pains 
he took to give real assistance in such cases, both by 
his own reflection, and by inquiring from his col 
leagues, are attested by his written and often cor 
rected memoranda. As an example may be mentioned 
the question whether inoculation was morally allow 
able or not. This question was addressed to him at 
the same time by a Professor of Medicine in Halle, 
and by a young nobleman who was going to be 
married, and whose bride wished to be inoculated. 
Kant s reply is not known, although some memoranda 
for it exist. 

After this time he began to feel the burden of age ; 
and his powers, mental and bodily, gradually failed. 
He was quite aware of his condition, and resigned. 
" Gentlemen," said he one day, " I do not fear to die. 
I assure you, as in the presence of God, that if on this 
very night, suddenly, the summons to death were to 
reach me, I should bear it with calmness, should raise 
my hands to heaven, and say, Blessed be God I 
Were it indeed possible that such a whisper as this 

1 Translated by Mr. Semple. Edinburgh, 1836; re-issued, 1869; 
3rd edition, Edinburgh, 1871. 


could reach my ear Fourscore years thou hast lived, 
in which time thou hast inflicted much evil upon thy 
fellow-men, the case would be otherwise." This was 
spoken, says Wasianski, in a tone of earnest sincerity. 
Two days after his seventy-ninth birthday he wrote in 
his memoranda : " According to the Bible our life lasts 
seventy years, and, if very long, fourscore years, and 
though it was pleasant, it has been labour and sorrow." 1 
Up to this time he was able to read the smallest print 
without spectacles, although he had lost the sight of 
one eye nearly twenty years before. But soon after 
he had written this memorandum his sight also failed, 
and he died in February. 1804, in his eightieth year. 
His body was so dried up that the physicians said 
they had hardly ever seen so wasted a body. Indeed 
he had himself said jestingly some years before, that 
he thought he had reached the minimum of muscular 
substance. 2 

Kant was of weak frame, and still weaker muscular 
power ; he was barely five feet in height. 3 His chest 
was flat, almost concave, the right shoulder slightly 
crooked, his complexion fresh, his forehead high, 
square, and broad, while his piercing blue eyes made 
so lively an impression that it was long remembered 
by some of his pupils. Even after he had lost the 
sight of one eye, the defect was not visible to a 
stranger. In consequence of his contracted chest he 
suffered from a feeling of oppression, which early in 
life caused a tendency to hypochondria, to such an 

1 According to Luther s translation. 

- An inti-resting account of " The Last Days of Kant," taken from 
Wasianski, may be found in De Quincey s works, vol. iii. 

3 Five German feet would be less than five feet two inches English. 


extent as even to make him feel weary of life. This, 
however, he overcame by force of thought. When 
engaged on the Kritik, in 1771, he speaks of his 
health being seriously impaired, and some years later 
he says that it is unceasingly broken ; yet by dint of 
careful attention and great regularity he was able, 
without medical aid, to maintain such good health on 
the whole, that at a later period he used to say to 
himself on going to bed, " Is it possible to conceive 
any human being enjoying better health than I do ? " 
His maxim for preserving health was, sustine et alstine. 
His practice illustrated this. The two indulgences of 
which he was fond were tobacco and coffee. But of 
the former he limited himself to a single pipe in the 
morning, whilst he altogether abstained from the latter 
until far advanced in life, thinking it injurious to 
health. At the age of seventy he wrote an essay, 
On the Power of the Mind to Master the Feeling of 
Illness by Force of Resolution. 1 The essay was origi 
nally addressed to Hufeland, the celebrated author 
of the treatise on the Art of Prolonging Life, and the 
principles contained in it are exemplified from Kant s 
own experience. He attached great importance to 
the habit of breathing through the nostrils instead of 
through the mouth, and asserted that he had by this 
means overcome a tendency to cough and cold in the 
head. There is more truth in this than is perhaps 
generally thought. 2 Kant, however, is said to have 

1 Afterwards included in the " Streit der Facultaten." This essay 
has had a circulation of over 50,000 in Germany, and a new edition 
has lately appeared. 

2 See an amusing book, by George Catlin, Shut your Mouth. 
London, 1869. 


regarded it as of so much importance that he did not 
like to have a companion in his daily walk, lest he 
should have to open his mouth. The true reason of 
this preference (in later life only) for solitary walks 
was, beyond doubt, that which is mentioned in this 
essay, that it is undesirable to exercise the limbs and the 
brain (or the brain and the stomach) at the same time.- 
His punctilious attention to health is amusingly 
illustrated by the artifice he used for suspending- his 
stockings. \Tbinking that garters injuriously impeded 
the circulation, he had a couple of bands attached to 
each stocking, and passing through a hole in the 
pocket of his breeches. Inside the pocket they were 
connected with a spring enclosed in a box, and this 
spring regulated the tension. That he might not be 
without some exercise in his study, he habitually left 
his handkerchief at the other side of the room, so that 
now and then he should have to get up and walk to it. 
On the same principle his hours of sleep, &c., were 
adhered to with the utmost regularity. He went to 
bed punctually at ten, and rose punctually at five. 
His servant had orders not to let him sleep longer on 
any account ; and on being asked once by Kant, in 
presence of guests, testified that for thirty years his 
master had never once indulged beyond the appointed 
hour. On rising he took a cup (indefinite cups) of 
tea, but no solid food. The early hours were devoted 
to preparation for his lectures, which in his earlier 
years occupied four or five hours, but subsequently 
only two. At seven o clock precisely, or eight, as the 
case might be, he entered his lecture-room. Lectures 
ended, at nine or ten, he returned to his study, and 
applied himself to preparing his books for the press. 


He worked thus without interruption until one o clock, 
the hour for dinner. This was his only meal, and he 
liked to have pleasant company, and to prolong the meal 
(ducere ccenam) with lively, sometimes brilliant conver 
sation, for three or four hours. Kant had no Boswell, 
and nothing is preserved of these conversations, in 
which he is said to have often thrown out profound 
and suggestive remarks with extraordinary richness. 1 
Until his sixty-third year, not having a house of his 
own, he dined at a public restaurant, which, however, 
he occasionally found it necessary to change, in con 
sequence of persons coming for the purpose of discuss 
ing philosophical questions with him. He considered 
that meal-time ought to be a time of perfect mental 
relaxation, and was not disposed to turn the dinner 
table into a lecture pulpit. His afternoons were, 
however, often spent at the houses of his friends, 
where he enjoyed meeting foreign merchants, sea 
captains, and travelled scholars, from whom he might 
learn much about foreign nations and countries. His 
instructive and entertaining conversation, flavoured 
with mild satiric humour, made him a welcome guest, 
and even with the children he was a favourite. After 
he became famous he declined invitations if he thought 
he was to be made a lion of. 

1 Some of his critical biographers thought he ate too much, for 
getting that this was his only meal in the twenty-four hours. " It 
is believed," says De Quincey, "that his critics ate their way from 
morn to dewy eve, through the following course of meals : 
1st, Breakfast early in the morning; 2nd, Breakfast a la fourchette, 
about 10 A.M. ; 3rd, Dinner at 1 or 2 ; 4th, Vesper BroA; 5th Abend 
Srod ; all of which does seem a very fair allowance for a man who 
means to lecture on abstinence at night." 


When he had a house of his own, he had every 
day a few friends to dine with him. He liked to have 
a mixed company merchants, professional men, and 
especially a few younger men. After dinner followed 
regularly his daily walk for an hour or more, along 
what was from him named " The Philosopher s Walk," 
until he was driven from it by the number of beggars 
whom his habit of almsgiving had attracted there. 1 
Even the severest weather did not interfere with this 
daily walk, in which in his earlier years he usually 
had companions ; after sixty years of age he walked 
alone, for the reason already mentioned. 

He had on one occasion a narrow escape from 
assassination. A lunatic, who had made up his mind 
to kill some one, waylaid Kant for the purpose, and 
followed him for three miles 5 but on reflection, think 
ing it a pity to kill an old professor who must have so 
many sins on his head, the unfortunate madman killed 
a child instead. 

The evening was devoted to lighter reading and 
meditation. He would read over and over again such 
books as Don Quixote, Hudibras, Swift s Tale of a 
Ttib, Juvenal, and Horace. In his later years he was 
especially fond of reading books on physical science, 
and books of travel. Purely speculative Avorks he 
cared little for, but liked to read Locke, Hutcheson, 
Pope, Hume, Montaigne, Rousseau. 

How unwilling Kant was to depart from his re 
gular routine appears from a characteristic anecdote. 
One day as he was returning from his walk, a noble- 

1 Yet some of his biographers state that he never gave alms to 


man who was driving came up with him, and politely 
invited him to take a drive with him, as the evening 
was fine. Kant yielded to the first impulse of polite 
ness, and consented. The Count, after driving over 
some of his property near the city, proposed to visit a 
friend some miles from the town, and Kant of course 
could not refuse. At last Kant was set down at his 
own door near ten o clock, full of vexation at this 
violation of his regular habits. He thereupon made 
it a fixed rule never to get into a carriage that he 
had not hired himself, so that he could manage it as 
he pleased. When once he had made such a resolu 
tion, he was satisfied that he could not be taken by 
surprise, and nothing would make him depart from it. 

So his life passed, says one of his biographers, like 
the most regular of regular verbs. 

Punctual, however, as he was, his punctuality did 
not come up to the standard of his friend Green. 
One evening Kant had promised that he would ac 
company Green in a drive the next morning at eight. 
At a quarter before eight Green was walking up and 
down his room, watch in hand ; at fifty minutes past 
seven he put on his coat, at fifty-five he took his stick, 
and at the first stroke of eight entered his carriage 
and drove off ; and although he met Kant, who was a 
couple of minutes late, he would not stop for him, 
because this was against the agreement and against 
his rule. This gentleman, for whom Kant had a great 
esteem, served as the model for the description of the 
English character in the Anthropoloyie. Kant s savings 
were invested with this Mr. Green, and allowed to 
accumulate at 6 per cent, interest. 

Kant is said to have been on two occasions on the 


point of marrying, or at least of making a proposal ; 
but he took so long to calculate his incomings and 
outgoings with exactness, in order to see whether he 
could afford it, that the lady in the first case was 
married, and in the second had left Konigsberg before 
he had made up his mind. When he was seventy 
years of age, an officious friend actually printed a 
dialogue on marriage, with a view to persuade the 
philosopher to marry. Kant reimbursed him for the 
expense of printing, but at that age, not unnaturally, 
thought the advice rather too late. How sensible he 
was to the charms of female society appears from the 
Essay On the Sublime and Beautiful, p. 426 If., where 
he discusses the difference between the sublime and 
beautiful in the natural relations of the sexes. 

Kant s personal character is described, by those 
who knew him best, as truly child-like. He was kind- 
hearted and actively benevolent ; of rare candour 
in estimating the abilities of other men, with high 
respect for everything that was noble or deserving; 
always disposed to recognize the good rather than the 
bad in men s characters. He was always ready with 
counsel and assistance for the young. His modesty 
towards scholars of great fame almost degenerated 
into shyness. 

As may be supposed from the regularity of his 
habits, he never allowed himself to run into debt. 
When a student at the University, with very narrow 
means, his only coat had once become so shabby, that 
some friends subscribed a sum of money, which was 
offered to him in the most delicate manner possible 
for the purchase of a new one. Kant, however, pre 
ferred to retain his shabby coat rather than incur debt 


or lose his independence. 1 In his old age he boasted 
that he had never owed any man a penny, so that 
when a knock came to his door he was never afraid 
to say, " Come in." When his means had increased 
(chiefly through the profits on his writings), he assisted 
such of his relatives as were in want in the most liberal 
manner. On the death of his brother, he assigned to 
the widow a pension of 200 thalers. Many poor per 
sons also received a weekly allowance from him ; and 
Wasianski, who in later years managed Kant s affairs 
for him, states that his charitable expenses amounted 
to about 400 thalers annually. 

His kindness was shown in his last will, in which 
he left an annual sum to a servant who had treated 
him shamefully, but who had served him (not indeed 
faithfully) for thirty years. Kant had dismissed him 
two years before, with a pension, on condition of his 
never setting foot inside the house again. After some 
other small legacies, the residue was left to the chil 
dren of his brother and sisters. The whole amount 
was under four thousand pounds. 

The principal questions on the Theory of Morals 
may, with sufficient accuracy for the present purpose, 
be said to be these : First, the purely speculative 
question, What is the essential nature of moral right- 
ness ? Secondly, the practical questions, What is to 
man the criterion of his duty ? and what is the founda 
tion of obligation ? The additional question, By what 
faculty do we discern right and wrong ? is properly a 
psychological one. 

1 The reader will be reminded of the similar story of Dr. Johnson 
and the boots. 



If we had only to do with a being in whom Reason 
was irresistibly dominant, we should not need to raise 
any further questions ; but having to treat of a being 
with affections and appetites distinct from reason, and 
not of themselves dependent on it, we must answer 
the further question : How is Reason to maintain 
its authority in spite of these resisting forces ? i. c. 
What is the Motive ? Lastly, since we have to deal 
with a corrupt creature, a new question arises : How 
is such a creature to be reformed ? 

Now, how does Kant deal with these questions ? 
His categorical imperative Act as if the maxim of 
thy action were to become by thy will a universal law 
of nature gives perhaps not the essence of virtue, but 
a property of it, which may indeed serve as a subjec 
tive criterion. That this criterion is formal only, and 
therefore empty, is hardly of itself a valid objection. 
The test of valid reasoning, the syllogism, is equally 
empty. The categorical imperative is, however, 
rather negative than positive ; and it is far from 
being sufficiently clear as a test of the morality of 
actions. This appears even in the examples which 
Kant himself gives. For example, treating of Com 
passion, he supposes that if a man refuses aid to the 
distressed, it is out of selfishness, and then shows that 
if selfishness was the ruling principle, it would contra 
dict itself. But why assume a motive for refusing 
help ? What we want is a motive for giving help. 
There is nothing contradictory in willing that none 
should help others. So in the case of gratitude, 
there is no contradiction in willing that those who 
receive benefits should entertain no peculiar feeling 
toward their benefactor. It is true we should look 


for it ourselves ; but this implies that such a feeling is 
natural to man, and that we approve it. Again, put 
the case of self-sacrifice, of a man giving his life to 
save his friend ; it would seem as easy on Kant s 
principle to prove this a vice as a virtue. 

Kant has in fact treated human nature too ab 
stractly. In eliminating the " matter " he has elimi 
nated that on which frequently the whole question 
turns. Indeed, in some of the instances he himself 
chooses, he elicits a contradiction only by bringing 
in a teleological consideration; e.g. as to suicide, he 
brings in the end for which self-love was given. The 
will to destroy one s own life is not contradictory of 
the will to sustain it, unless the circumstances be 
supposed the same. 

These remarks, however, only show that the for 
mula is not a mechanical rule of conduct ; they do 
not disprove its scientific value. In fact, precisely 
similar objections have been alleged against the logi 
cal analysis of speculative reasoning, that it leaves 
untouched what in practice is the most difficult part 
of the problem. If all poisonous substances could be 
brought under a single chemical formula, the gene 
ralization would be of value both theoretically and 


practically, although its application to particular 
cases might be difficult and uncertain. Kant never 
attempted " to deduce a complete code of duty from 
a purely formal principle " ; l he expressly states that 

1 Sidgwick, Method of Ethics, page 181 ; 3rd ed., page 207. In 
his third edition, Mr. Sidgwick appeals, in defence of his view, to 
Kant s statements in pp. 38-42 of the present book. The passage on 
p. 299 was, he remarks, written ten years later. But I think it will 
be found that in each of his hypothetical cases he does not deduce 



this is only a negative principle, and that the matter 
of practical maxims is to be derived from a different 
source (cf. the present work, p. 299). Nor is it to be 
supposed that Kant was not fully aware of the difficulty 
of applying his formula to the complex circumstances 
of actual life. In his Metaphysic of Morals he states a 
great number of questions of casuistry, which he leaves 
undecided, as puzzles or exercises to the reader. And 
indeed similar difficulties might be raised, from a 
speculative point of view, respecting the rule, " What 
soever ve would that men should do unto you, even 
so do unto them " a rule of which we may never 
theless say that in practice it probably never misled 
anyone, for everyone sees that the essence of it is the 
elimination of self-partiality and inward dishonesty. 
The scientific basis of it is stated by Clarke in lan 
guage nearly equivalent to Kant s. The reason of 
it, says the former, is the same as that which forces 
us in speculation to affirm that if one line or number 
be equal to another, that other is equal to it. " What 
ever relation or proportion one man in any case bears 
to another, the same that other, when put in like cir 
cumstances, bears to him. Whatever I judge reason 
able or unreasonable for another to do for me, that, 
by the same judgment, I declare reasonable or unrea 
sonable that I in the like case should do for him." 1 
Kant s rule is a generalization of this, so as to include 
duties to ourselves as well as to others. As such it 
has a real scientific value. Practically, its value 

the maxim from the imperative. What he does is to test the maxim 
by the imperative, just as ho might test an argument by the rules of 

1 Discourse on the Attriliitef, &c. Ed. 1728, p. 200. 


consists, like that of the golden rule, in the elimination 
of inward dishonesty. 

Mill s criticism on Kant s formula is, that when 
we speak of a maxim being u fit" to be a universal 
law, it is obvious that some test of fitness is required, 
and that Kant, in fact, tests the maxims by their con 
sequences; as if the whole gist of Kant s argument 
were not that the only test of this fitness is logical 
possibility ; or as if this were not the one thing 
expressed in his formula. As to testing maxims by 
consequences, he does so in the same sense in which 
Euclid in indirect demonstrations tests a hypothesis by 
its consequences, and in no other, i. e, by the logical 
consequences, not the practical. Take the case of a 
promise. In Kant s view, the argument against the 
law permitting unfaithfulness is not that it would be 
attended with consequences injurious to society, but 
that it would annihilate all promises (the present 
included), and therefore annihilate itself. Of incon 
venience to society not a word is said or implied. 
Hence Kant s objection rests wholly on the absolute 
universality of the supposed law, whereas the Utili 
tarian objection from practical consequences would be 
applicable in a proportionate degree to a law riot sup 
posed universal. Hence, also, Kant s test would hold 
even if the present promise were never to be followed 
by another ; nay, it would be of equal force even 
though it should be proved that it would be better for 
society that there sho.uld be no verbal promises. 

It has been said 1 that in applying Kant s formula 

1 Sidgwick, Method of Ethics, page 450; 3rd ed., page 482. 
Mr. Sidgwick s argument involves the assumption, that the sum of 


we must qualify it by introducing the consideration 
of the probability that our example or rule will be 
generally followed ; and the instance of celibacy has 
been suggested, which, it is said, would be necessarily 
condemned as a crime if tested by Kant s rule, pure 
and simple ; for if all men practised celibacy, there 
would be an end of the race, and, on the " greatest 
happiness " principle, to effect this would be the worst 
of crimes. Now, if a qualification were required, or 
admissible, Kant s formula would be deprived of all 
scientific significance, and its application made depen 
dent on private and uncertain opinion. As to the 
example of celibacy, Kant has himself indicated how 
he would dispose of it by the way in which he treats 
suicide. He does not show its unlawfulness by alleg 
ing that if everyone committed suicide the human 
race would come to an end, but by exposing the in 
consistency in the principle of action which would lead 
to suicide. In every case it is the mental principle 
which is to be tested, not the mere external action. 
Bearing this in mind, we shall find no difficulty in 
the case of celibacy. It may proceed from motives 
which there would be no absurdity in supposing uni 
versal, because the circumstances which give them this 
particular direction could only be exceptional. But, 
suppose celibacy recommended on grounds which are 
in their own nature universal, e. g. as a condition of 
moral perfection, then Kant s formula would properly 

human happiness is certainly known to exceed that of human misery. 
Even on his own statement, a man who doubted or disbelieved this 
would be justified in adopting celibacy. Nay, in the latter case, he 
might regard it as a duty. 


apply, for moral perfection is an end to be aimed at 
by all. One might just as well say that Kant s rule 
would make all killing criminal, whereas Kant would 
obviously require us to take into account the motive, 
self-defence, or other. On the other hand, apply Mr. 
Sidgwick s qualifications, and what would result ? Why, 
that we might innocently kill, provided the action 
were not likely to be generally imitated ! If occasional 
celibacy is justified only because there exists a natural 
passion which is sure to be usually powerful enough 
to prevent the example being followed, then we may 
equally justify occasional violence or murder on the 
ground that fear or benevolence will naturally prevent 
the action from being extensively imitated. 

Kant s view of the source of obligation in the 
Autonomy of the will appears to require qualification 
if we would avoid a contradiction. A law must be 
above the nature to which it is a law, and which is 
subject to it. A being which gave itself the moral law, 
and whose freedom, therefore, is Autonomy, would 
not be conscious of obligation or duty, since the moral 
law would coincide with its will. Kant draws the ap 
parently self -contradictory conclusion that we, though 
willing the law, yet resist it. Even if this be granted, 
it would follow, not that we should feel obliged, but 
that either no action at all would follow, or the more 
powerful side would prevail. That we condemn our 
selves when we have violated the law is an important 
fact, on which Kant very strongly insists, but which 
his theory fails to explain. Is it not a far simpler and 
truer explanation to say that this self-condemnation, 
this humiliation in the presence of an unbending judge, 
is a proof that we have not given ourselves the law j 


that we are subjects of a higher power ? l There is, 
indeed, a sense in which Autonomy may be truly vin 
dicated to man. The moral law is not a mere precept 
imposed upon us from without, nor is it forced upon 
us by our sensitive nature ; it is a law prescribed to 
us, or, more correctly speaking, revealed to us, by our 
own Reason. But Reason is not our own in the sense 
in which our appetites or sensations are our own ; it is 
not under our own control ; it bears the stamp of uni 
versality and authority. Thus it declares itself imper 
sonal : in other words, what Reason reveals we regard 
as valid for all beings possessed of intelligence equal 
or superior to our own. Hence, many ethical writers, 
both ancient and modern, have insisted as strongly as 
Kant that the moral law is common to man with all 
rational creatures. 2 And when Kant speaks of Auto 
nomy, this is all that his argument requires. Accord 
ingly, he sometimes speaks of rational creatures as the 
subjects of Reason, which is the supreme legislator. 

As regards the sanctions of the moral law, which 
practically to imperfect creatures furnish the motive, 
these consist, according to Kant, in the happiness and 
misery which are the natural consequences of virtue 

1 Kant appears to recognize this in the passage quoted on p. 3l22. 

2 For instance, Cicero de Legibus argues that there is " coinmunio 
juris inter deos et homines." Dr. Adams (in his celebrated sermon 

On the Obligation of Virtue}, like Kant, remarks that to found the 
obligation of virtue on any good affections, or on a moral sense (as 
this is generally understood), is to make its nature wholly precarious, 
to suppose that men might have been intelligent beings without such 
sentiments, or with the very reverse. So Clarke had insisted that 
the eternal relations of things, with their consequent fitnesses, must 
appear the same to the understandings of all intelligent beings. In 
fact, this is a commonplace of English moralists. 


and vice ; and he thinks that when they are regarded 
as natural consequences, the dread of the misery will 
have more effect than if it were thought to be an 
arbitrary punishment. " The view into an illimitable 
future of happiness or misery is sufficient to serve as 
a motive to the virtuous to continue steadfast in well 
doing, and to arouse in the vicious the condemning 
voice of conscience to check his evil course." 1 In 
this Kant agrees with Cumberland. Kant s argument 
for immortality is in substance that it is necessary for 
a continued indefinite approximation to the ideal of 
the moral law. But since, as he maintains, we have 
ourselves to blame for not having attained this ideal, 
what right have we to expect such an opportunity ? 
Having missed the true moment in his argument, 
which led to the existence of a Supreme Lawgiver, he 
arrived at this fundamental truth by a roundabout way, 
through the conception of the summum bonum. But this 
introduces a quite heterogeneous notion, viz., that of 
happiness. Happiness belongs to a man as a sensible 
creature, and all that he has a right to say is, that if 
Practical Reason had happiness to confer, it would 
confer it on virtue. How much more direct and con 
vincing is the argument suggested by Butler s brief 
words : " Consciousness of a rule or guide of action, 
in creatures who are capable of considering it as given 
them by their Maker, not only raises immediately a 
sense of duty, but also a sense of security in following- 
it, and of danger in deviating from it. A direction of 
the Author of Nature, given to creatures capable of 
looking upon it as such, is plainly a command from 

1 Religion, p. 80. 


him ; and a command from him necessarily includes 
in- it at least an implicit promise in case of obedience, 
or threatening in case of disobedience " ; and since 
" his method of government is to reward and punish 
actions, his having annexed to some actions an 
inseparable sense of good desert, and to others of 
ill, this surely amounts to declaring upon whom 
his punishments shall be inflicted, and his rewards 

Kant sees no mode of reconciling morality with the 
law of Causality, except by his distinction of noumena 
and phenomena. When the law of Causality is rightly 
understood, there is no inconsistency. For the cause 
which it demands is an efficient cause, and the idea of 
an efficient cause involves the idea of mind. 1 It is in 
volved in the idea of matter, that it cannot originate 
(this Kant himself adopts as a first principle in his 
Metaphysics of Natural Philosophy) ; whereas it is the 
very idea of mind with will that it does originate. 

1 This has been recognized by philosophers of all periods who have 
not begun with a particular theory as to the origin of the idea and the 
principle. Thus, to take only non-metaphysical writers, Sir J. Herschel 
says : " It is our own immediate consciousness of effort which we exert 
to put matter in motion, or to oppose and neutralize force, which gives 
us this internal conviction of power and causation, so far as it refers 
to the material world, and compels us to believe that whenever we see 
material objects put in motion ... it is in consequence of such an 
effort, somehow exerted, though not accompanied with our conscious 
ness." (Astronomy, 10th ed., sec. 439.) Dubois Reymond makes 
a similar statement, deriving the principle from " an irresistible 
tendency to personify." It is somewhat singular that the philosophers 
who most strenuously deny that the principle of causality has any 
basis other than our observation of the phenomena of passive matter, 
yet insist most strongly on extending it to those of active will. 


When we seek the cause of motion, we are satisfied 
when we trace it to a will. True, we may then ask 
for the motive ; but the nature of motive and that of 
efficient cause are heterogeneous. 

Kant s view of Freedom, however, does not involve 
anything of caprice or indeterminateness. Freedom, 
according to him, is not independence on law which 
we can consciously follow, but independence on the 
physical relation of causality, the not being deter 
mined by physical or sensible causes. On this view 
the contradiction, which to Hobbes and others seemed 
to exist between the conception of freedom and that 
of the Divine foreknowledge, would have little weight. 
A short consideration suffices to show that there is a 
fallacy involved in Hobbes 1 argument. Suppose a being 
perfectly wise and good, and at the same time free, 
then we should only require perfect knowledge of the 
circumstances of a particular case in order to predict 
his conduct, and that infallibly. If he were not free, 
we could not do so. And the more nearly a being 
approaches such perfection, the more certainly could 
we predict his actions. If his goodness were perfect, 
but his knowledge imperfect, and if we knew how far 
his knowledge extended, we could still predict. It 
would be absurd to say that this would be a con 

It is worthy of notice that Cudworth s conception 
of liberty corresponds closely with that of Kant. 
" The true liberty of a man, as it speaks pure per 
fection, is when by the right use of the faculty of 
free will, together with the assistance of Divine grace, 
he is habitually fixed in moral good " ; " but when by 
the abuse of that faculty of free will men come to be 


habitually fixed in evil and sinful inclinations, then 
are they, as Boethius well expresses it, proprice libertati 
captivi made captive and brought into bondage by 
their own free will." It may have been suggested 
to both of them by St. Paul, who represents sin as 
slavery, righteousness as freedom. 

Kant is by no means happy in his treatment of 
the corruption of human nature. In order to escape the 
difficulty of reconciling responsibility with the innate 
corruption on which he so strongly dwells, he has 
recourse (as in the case of freedom) to the distinction 
between man noumenon and man phenomenon. The 
innate evil of human nature rests on an inversion of 
the natural order, the legislative will being subordi 
nated to the sensibility. But how can this be recon 
ciled with the self-given and therefore self-willed 
law which makes good a duty ? It is inconceivable 
that the pure supersensible essence could invest the 
sensational nature (the objects of which have for it no 
reality) with a preponderance over itself. A further 
contradiction appears to be involved in the relation of 
evil to freedom ; for he states that freedom is as 
inseparably connected with the law of Practical Reason 
as the physical cause with the law of nature, so that 
freedom without the law of Practical Reason is a 
causality without law, which would be absurd ; and 
yet, on the other hand, he regards freedom as an 
ability from which proceeds contradiction to the 
moral law. 

A still more insuperable difficulty meets him when 
he attempts to answer the question. Is reformation 
possible ? He replies : Yes ; for it is a duty. You 
ought : therefore you can. How the return from evil 


to good is possible cannot indeed be comprehended ; 
but the original fall from good to evil is equally 
incomprehensible, and yet is a fact. Now, freedom, 
which belongs to the supersensible sphere (the sphere 
of noumena), cannot be determined by anything in the 
phenomenal world ; consequently, if freedom has, apart 
from time, given the man a determination, then no 
event in time can produce a change. Nay, it would 
be a contradiction to suppose the removal of an act in 
the noumenal (supersensible) world by a succeeding 
act. Contrary or contradictory attributes cannot be 
attributed to the same subject except under the con 
dition of time. If, therefore, the intelligent being is 
timeless, we cannot possibly attribute to it two deci 
sions, of which one annuls the other. He is not even 
consistent, for he argues that it is not possible to 
destroy this radical corruption by human power, but 
only to overcome it. Why does he not conclude here, 
I ought to destroy it : therefore I can ? Lastly, even 
if this "I can" were granted, it would be only a 
theoretical, not a practical, possibility. If the man 
endowed with the faculties in their true subordina 
tion, with reason supreme, has yet not had strength 
or purity of will to remain so, what practical possi 
bility is there that having this subordination perverted 
he can restore it? There is obviously an external 
aid necessary here. Not that anything wholly exter 
nal could effect the change, which can only be 
produced by something operating on man s own 
moral nature ; but there must be a moral leverage, 
an external fulcrum, a TTOV CTTO). Such aid, such 
leverage are provided by the Christian religion. It 
has introduced a new motive, perfectly original and 


unique, the overpowering force of which has been 
proved in many crucial instances; and no more com 
plete theoretical proof of the absolute necessity of 
some such revelation could be given than is supplied 
by the attempts of the profoundest philosopher of 
modern times to dispense with it. 

Kant s own position with respect to Christianity 
is that of a Rationalist. He accepts the whole moral 
and spiritual teaching of the New Testament, because 
he finds it in accordance with reason, and this being 

* o 

so, he judges that it is a matter of no practical conse 
quence whether its introduction was supernatural or 
not. He did not deny that Divine aid was required 
to make reformation possible ; but he thought that no 
intellectual belief or knowledge of ours could be a 
condition of this aid, and, therefore, that all historical 
questions were adiaphora. But this is to take for 
granted that if God gives such aid at all, it must be in 
a particular way. Butlers argument from analogy is 
conclusive against such assumptions. And, indeed, it is 
certain that the moral and the historical in Christianity 
cannot be thus kept apart. It is to the facts that the 
doctrines owe their life and motive-power. It is these 
that supply the leverage, without which the most per 
fect moral teaching will fall dead on the ears at least 
of the masses of mankind. 

Besides, as Butler shows, revealed facts may be 
the foundation of moral duties to those to whom the 
revelation has come. 

It is remarkable that, although Kant was fond of 
reading English authors, and was influenced in his 
moral discussions by English moralists, Butler (who 
had written half a century before the publication of 


the Kritik] was wholly unknown to him. What is 
more remarkable is, that Butler has remained equally 
unknown to German writers up to the present day. 
Whilst German historians of moral philosophy are 
careful to note the merits of even Wollaston and 
Ferguson, they pass over Butler s name in silence. 
The reason of this silence, doubtless, is to be found 
in the title of his work. But although foreign philo 
sophers could not be expected to look for a treatise 
on moral philosophy in a book called Fifteen Sermons, 
how is it that attention was not called to him by the 
notices in Mackintosh (who is largely cited, e. g. by 
I. H. Fichte), which showed the high estimation in 
which the work was held in England ? It is certainly 
a curious and suggestive fact that writers, professedly 
and learnedly treating of English moral philosophers, 
should be wholly ignorant of the writer who holds by 
far the highest rank among them, whose work is the 
classical work, the text-book of the Universities, and 
with a wider circulation, probably, than the works of 
all the other moralists put together. 

The most striking peculiarity of Kant s moral 
theory is its connexion with his metaphysical system. 
It is in the moral law that he finds the means of estab 
lishing the existence, and to some extent the nature, of 
the supersensible reality. He has been charged with 
inconsistency in this. What he pulls down in the 
Critique of the Speculative Reason, he restores illo- 
gically, it is said, in that of the Practical Reason. 
The fact appears to be, that readers of the former 
work are apt to fall into two mistakes. First, they 
suppose that they have before them a complete system 
instead of a portion only ; and secondly, they mistake 


the attitude of suspense with regard to the supersen 
sible reality for a dogmatic negation of all knowledge 
thereof. When they come to the Practical works, 
they find the impression thus formed respecting 
Kant s attitude towards the supersensible contradicted. 
But the inconsistency is not between the two parts of 
Kant s system, but between his system as a whole and 
the impression derived from a partial view of it. That 
he limits his affirmation of the supersensible to its 
practical aspect is quite in accordance with the spirit 
of his philosophy. Nor is this limitation so very 
unlike that of the common-sense philosopher, Locke, 
who, in speaking of the limits of our faculties, says that 
men have reason to be well satisfied, since God hath 
given them " whatever is necessary for the conveni 
ences of life, and the information of virtue " ; adding, 
" How short soever their knowledge may come of an 
universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, 
it yet secures their great concernments, that they 
have light enough to lead them to the knowledge 
of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties." 
(Essay, bk. I., ch. i., 5.) 


ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY was divided into three 
sciences : Physics, Ethics, and Logic. This division is 
perfectly suitable to the nature of the thing; and the only 
improvement that can be made in it is to add the principle on 
which it is based, so that we may both satisfy ourselves of its 
completeness, and also be able to determine correctly the 
necessary subdivisions. 

All rational knowledge is either material or formal : the 
former considers some object, the latter is concerned only with 
the form of the understanding and of the reason itself, and with 
the universal laws of thought in general without distinction 
of its objects. Formal philosophy is called Logic. Material 
philosophy, however, which has to do with determinate objects 
and the laws to which they are subject, is again twofold ; for 
these laws are either laws of nature or of freedom. The science 
of the former is Physics, that of the latter, Ethics ; they are also 
called natural philosophy and moral philosophy respectively. 

Logic cannot have any empirical part ; that is, a part in 
which the universal and necessary laws of thought should rest 
on grounds taken from experience ; otherwise it would not be 
logic, i.e. a canon for the understanding or the reason, valid 
for all thought, and capable of demonstration (4). Natural and 



moral philosophy, on the contrary, can each have their empirical 
part, since the former has to determine the laws of nature as 
an object of experience ; the latter the laws of the human will, 
so far as it is affected by nature : the former, however, 
being laws according to which everything does happen ; the 
latter, laws according to which everything ought to happen. 1 
Ethics, however, must also consider the conditions under which 
what ought to happen frequently does not. 

We may call all philosophy empirical, so far as it is based 
on grounds of experience : on the other hand, that which 
delivers its doctrines from d priori principles alone we may 
call pure philosophy. When the latter is merely formal, it is 
loyic ; if it is restricted to definite objects of the understanding, 
it is metaphysic. 

In this way there arises the idea of a twofold metaphysic 
a metaphysic of nature and a metaphysic of morals. Physics will 
thus have an empirical and also a rational part. It is the 
same with Ethics ; but here the empirical part might have the 
special name of practical anthropology, the name morality being 
appropriated to the rational part. 

All trades, arts, and handiworks have gained by division of 
labour, namely, when, instead of one man doing everything, 
each confines himself to a certain kind of work distinct from 
others in the treatment it requires, so as to be able to perform 
it with greater facility and in the greatest perfection. Where 
the different kinds of work are not so distinguished and divided, 
where everyone is a jack-of -all-trades, there manufactures remain 
still in the greatest barbarism. It might deserve to be considered 

1 [The word " law" is here used in two different senses, on which see 
Whately s Logic, Appendix, Art. " Law."] 


whether pure philosophy in all its parts does not require a man 
specially devoted to it, and whether it would not be better for 
the whole business of science if those who, to please the tastes 
of the public, are wont to blend the rational and empirical 
elements together, mixed in all sorts of proportions unknown 
to themselves (5), and who call themselves independent thinkers, 
giving the name of minute philosophers to those who apply 
themselves to the rational part only if these, I say, were 
warned not to carry on two employments together which differ 
widely in the treatment they demand, for each of which perhaps 
a special talent is required, and the combination of which in one 
person only produces bunglers. But I only ask here whether the 
nature of science does not require that we should always care 
fully separate the empirical from the rational part, and prefix 
to Physics proper (or empirical physics) a metaphysic of nature, 
and to practical anthropology a metaphysic of morals, which 
must be carefully cleared of everything empirical, so that we 
may know how much can be accomplished by pure reason in 
both cases, and from what sources it draws this its a priori 
teaching, and that whether the latter inquiry is conducted by 
all moralists (whose name is legion), or only by some who feel 
a calling thereto. 

As my concern here is with moral philosophy, I limit the 
question suggested to this : Whether it is not of the utmost 
necessity to construct a pure moral philosophy, perfectly cleared 
of everything which is only empirical, arid which belongs to 
anthropology ? for that such a philosophy must be possible is 
evident from the common idea of duty and of the moral laws. 
Everyone must admit that if a law is to have moral force, i.e. 
to be the basis of an obligation, it must carry with it absolute 
necessity ; that, for example, the precept, " Thou shalt not lie," 



is not valid for men alone, as if other rational beings had no 
need to observe it ; and so with all the other moral laws properly 
so called ; that, therefore, the basis of obligation must not be 
sought in the nature of man, or in the circumstances in the 
world in which he is placed, but a priori simply in the concep 
tions of (e) pure reason ; and although any other precept which 
is founded on principles of mere experience may be in certain 
respects universal, yet in as far as it rests even in the least 
degree on an empirical basis, perhaps only as to a motive, such 
a precept, while it may be a practical rule, can never be called 
a. moral law. 

Thus not only are moral laws with their principles essentially 
distinguished from every other kind of practical knowledge in 
which there is anything empirical, but all moral philosophy 
rests wholly on its pure part. When applied to man, it does 
not borrow the least thing from the knowledge of man himself 
(anthropology), but gives laws a priori to him as a rational 
being. No doubt these laws require a judgment sharpened by 
experience, in order on the one hand to distinguish in what 
cases they are applicable, and on the other to procure for them 
access to the will of the man, and effectual influence on conduct ; 
since man is acted on by so many inclinations that, though 
capable of the idea of a practical pure reason, he is not so easily 
able to make it effective in concrcto in his life. 

A metaphysic of morals is therefore indispensably necessary, 
not merely for speculative reasons, in order to investigate the 
sources of the practical principles which are to be f ound a priori 
in our reason, but also because morals themselves are liable to all 
sorts of corruption, as long as we are without that clue and 
supreme canon by which to estimate them correctly >*Tor in 
order that an action should be morally good, it is not enough 


that it conform to the moral law, but it must also be done for 
the sake of the law, otherwise that conformity is only very con 
tingent and uncertain ; since a principle which is not moral, 
although it may now and then produce actions conformable to 
the law, will also often produce actions which contradict it (7). 
Now it is only in a pure philosophy that we can look for the 
moral law in its purity and genuineness (and, in a practical 
matter, this is of the utmost consequence) : we must, therefore, 
begin with pure philosophy (metaphysic), and without it there 
cannot be any moral philosophy at all. That which mingles 
these pure principles with the empirical does not deserve the 
name of philosophy (for what distinguishes philosophy from 
common rational knowledge is, that it treats in separate 
sciences what the latter only comprehends confusedly) ; much 
less does it deserve that of moral philosophy, since by this 
confusion it even spoils the purity of morals themselves, and 
counteracts its own end. 

Let it not be thought, however, that what is here demanded 
is already extant in the prop^deutic prefixed by the celebrated 
Wolf 1 to his moral philosophy, namely, his so-called yeneral 
practiced 2)hilo.sopliy, and that, therefore, we have not to strike 
into an entirely new field. Just because it was to be a general 
practical philosophy, it has not taken into consideration a will 
of any particular kind say one which should be determined 
solely from a priori principles without any empirical motives, 
and which we might call a pure will, but volition in general, 
with all the actions and conditions which belong to it in this 

1 [Johann Christian Voii Wolf (1679-1754) was the author of treatises 
on philosophy, mathematics, ttc., which were for a longtime the standard 
text-books in the German Universities. His philosophy was founded on 
that of Leibnitz.] 


general signification. By this it is distinguished from a meta 
physic of morals, just as general logic, which treats of trie acts 
and canons of thought in yencral, is distinguished from tran 
scendental philosophy, which treats of the particular acts and 
canons of pi<rc thought, i.e. that whose cognitions are altogether 
d priori. For the metaphysic of morals has to examine the 
idea and the principles of a possible piirc. will, and not the 
acts and conditions of human volition generally, which for the 
most part are drawn from psychology (s). It is true that moral 
laws and duty are spoken of in the general practical philosophy 
(contrary indeed to all fitness). But this is no objection, for in 
this respect also the authors of that science remain true to their 
idea of it ; they do not distinguish the motives which are 
prescribed as such by reason alone altogether d priori, and which 
are properly moral, from the empirical motives which the 
understanding raises to general conceptions merely by com 
parison of experiences ; but without noticing the difference of 
their sources, and looking on them all as homogeneous, they 
consider only their greater oTr less amount. It is in this way 
they frame their notion of obligation, which, though anything 
but moral, is all that can be asked for in a philosophy which 
passes no judgment at all on the origin of all possible practical 
concepts, whether they are d priori, or only d posteriori. 

Intending to publish hereafter a metaphysic of morals, I 
issue in the first instance these fundamental principles. Indeed 
there is properly no other foundation for it than the critical 
wm ination of a pure practical reason] just as that of metaphysics 
is the critical examination of the pure speculative reason, 
already published. But in the first place the former is not so 
absolutely necessary as the latter, because in moral concerns 
human reason can easily be brought to a high degree of 


correctness and completeness, even in the commonest under 
standing, while on the contrary in its theoretic but pure use it 
is wholly dialectical; and in the second place if the critique of 
a pure practical reason is to be complete, it must be possible at 
the same time to show its identity with the speculative reason 
in a common principle, for it can ultimately be only one and 
the same reason which has to be distinguished merely in its 
application. I could not, however, bring it to such complete 
ness here, without introducing considerations of a wholly 
different kind, which would be perplexing to the reader (9). 
On this account I have adopted the title of Fundamental 
Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals instead of that of a 
Critical Examination of the pure, practiced reason. 

But in the third place, since a metaphysic of morals, in 
spite of the discouraging title, is yet capable of being presented 
in a popular form, and one adapted to the common under 
standing, I find it useful to separate from it this preliminary 
treatise on its fundamental principles, in order that I may not 
hereafter have need to introduce these necessarily subtle 
discussions into a book of a more simple character. 

The present treatise is, however, nothing more than the 
investigation and establishment of the supreme principle of 
morality, and this alone constitutes a study complete in itself, 
and one which ought to be kept apart from every other moral 
investigation. No doubt my conclusions on this weighty 
question, which has hitherto been very unsatisfactorily 
examined, would receive much light from the application of 
the same principle to the whole system, and would be greatly 
confirmed by the adequacy which it exhibits throughout ; but 
I must forego this advantage, which indeed would be after all 
more gratifying than useful, since the easy applicability of a 


principle and its apparent adequacy give no very certain proof 
of its soundness, but rather inspire a certain partiality, which 
prevents us from examining and estimating it strictly in itself, 
and without regard to consequences. 

I have adopted in this work the method which 1 think 
most suitable, proceeding analytically from common knowledge 
to the determination of its ultimate principle, and jigain 
descending synthetically from the examination of this principle 
and its sources to the common knowledge in which we find it 
employed. The division will, therefore, be as follows ( 10) : 

1. First section. Transition from the common rational 

knowledge of morality to the philosophical. 

2. Second section. Transition from popular moral philosophy 

to the metaphysic of morals. 

3. Third section. Final step from the metaphysic of morals 

to the critique of the pure practical reason. 




NOTHING can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of 
it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a Good 
Will. Intelligence, wit, judgment, and the other talent* of the 
mind, however they may be named, or courage, resolution, per 
severance, as qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good 
and desirable in many respects ; but these gifts of nature may 
also become extremely bad and mischievous if the will which is 
to make use of them, and which, therefore, constitutes what is 
called character, is not good. It is the same with the yifts of 
fortune. Power, riches, honour, even health, and the general 
well-being and contentment with one s condition which is called 
hairiness, inspire pride, and often presumption, if there is not a 
good will to correct the influence of these on the mind, and with 
this also to rectify the whole principle of acting, and adapt it 
to its end. The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single 
feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, 
can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator (12). 
Thus a good will appears to constitute the indispensable condi 
tion even of being worthy of happiness. 

There are even some qualities which are of service to this 
good will itself, and may facilitate its action, yet which have no 
intrinsic unconditional value, but always presuppose a good 
will, and this qualifies the esteem that we justly have for them, 
and does not permit us to regard them as absolutely good. 
Moderation in the affections and passions, self-control, and 
calm deliberation are not only good in many respects, but even 
seem to constitute part of the intrinsic worth of the person ; 
but they are far from deserving to be called good without 


qualification, although they have been so unconditionally 
praised by the ancients. For without the principles of a good 
will, they may become extremely bad; and the coolness of a 
villain not only makes him far more dangerous, but also directly 
makes him more abominable in our eyes than he would have been 
without it. 

A good will is good not because of what it performs or 
effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed 
end, but simply by virtue of the volition, that is, it is good in 
itself, and considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher 
than all that can be brought about by it in favour of any incli 
nation, nay, even of the sum-total of all inclinations. Even if 
it shbuld happen that, owing to special disfavour of fortune, or 
the niggardly provision of a step-motherly nature, this will 
should wholly lack power to accomplish its purpose, if with its 
greatest efforts it should yet achieve nothing, and there should 
remain only the good will (not, to be sure, a mere wish, but the 
summoning of all means in our power), then, like a jewel, it 
would still shine by its own light, as a thing which has its 
whole value in itself 13). Its usefulness or fruitlessness can 
neither add to nor take away anything from this value. It 
would be, as it were, only the setting to enable us to handle it 
the more conveniently in common commerce, or to attract to it 
the attention of those who are not yet connoisseurs, but not to 
recommend it to true connoisseurs, or to determine its value. 

There is, however, something so strange in this idea of the 
absolute value of the mere will, in which no account is taken of 
its utility, that notwithstanding the thorough assent of even 
common reason to the idea, yet a suspicion must arise that it 
may perhaps really be the product of mere high-flown fancy, 
and that we may have misunderstood the purpose of nature in 
assigning reason as the governor of our will. Therefore we will 
examine this idea from this point of view. 

In the physical constitution of an organized being, that is, a 
being adapted suitably to the purposes of life, we assume it as 
a fundamental principle that no organ for any purpose will be 
found but what is also the fittest and best adapted for that 


purpose. Now in a being which has reason and a will, if the 
proper object of nature were its conservation, its welfare, in a 
word, its happiness, then nature would have hit upon a very bad 
arrangement in selecting the reason of the creature to carry out 
this purpose. For all the actions which the creature has to per 
form with a view to this purpose, and the whole rule of its con 
duct, would be far more surely prescribed to it by instinct, and 
that end would have been attained thereby much more certainly 
than it ever can be by reason. Should reason have been com 
municated to this favoured creature over and above, it must 
only have served it to contemplate the happy constitution of its 
nature (14), to admire it, to congratulate itself thereon, and 
to feel thankful for it to the beneficent cause, but not that it 
should subject its desires to that weak and delusive guidance, 
and meddle bunglingly with the purpose of nature. In a word, 
nature would have taken care that reason should not break forth 
into practical exercise, nor have the presumption, with its weak 
insight, to think out for itself the plan of happiness, and of 
the means of attaining it. Nature would not only have taken 
on herself the choice of the ends, but also of the means, and 
with wise foresight would have entrusted both to instinct. 

And, in fact, we find that the more a cultivated reason 
applies itself with deliberate purpose to the enjoyment of life 
and happiness, so much the more does the man fail of true 
satisfaction. And from this circumstance there arises in many, if 
they are candid enough to confess it, a certain degree of misology, 
that is, hatred of reason, especially in the case of those who are 
most experienced in the use of it, because after calculating all 
the advantages they derive, I do not say from the invention of all 
the arts of common luxury, but even from the sciences (which 
seem to them to be after all only a luxury of the understanding), 
they find that they have, in fact, only brought more trouble on 
their shoulders, rather than gained in happiness ; and they end 
by envying, rather than despising, the more common stamp of 
men who keep closer to the guidance of mere instinct, and do 
not allow their reason much influence on their conduct. And 
this we must admit, that the judgment of those who would very 


much lower the lofty eulogies of the advantages which reason 
gives us in regard to the happiness and satisfaction of life, or 
who would even reduce them below zero, is by no means mor< >se 
or ungrateful to the goodness with which the world is governed, 
but that there lies at the root of these judgments the idea (15) 
that our existence has a different and far nobler end, for which, 
and not for happiness, reason is properly intended, and which 
must, therefore, be regarded as the supreme condition to which 
the private ends of man must, for the most part, be postponed. 

For as reason is not competent to guide the will with cer 
tainty in regard to its objects and the satisfaction of all our 
wants (which it to some extent even multiplies), this being an 
end to which an implanted instinct would have led with much 
greater certainty ; and since, nevertheless, reason is imparted to 
us as a practical faculty, i.e. as one which is to have influence on 
the will, therefore, admitting that nature generally in the dis 
tribution of her capacities has adapted the means to the end. its 
true destination must be to produce a will, not merely good as 
a means to something else, but yootf in itself, for which reason 
was absolutely necessary. This will then, though not indeed 
the sole and complete good, must be the supreme good and the 
condition of every other, even of the desire of happiness. Under 
these circumstances, there is nothing inconsistent with the 
wisdom of nature in the fact that the cultivation of the reason, 
which is requisite for the first and unconditional purpose, does 
in many ways interfere, at least in this life, with the attainment 
of the second, which is always conditional, namely, happiness. 
Xay, it may even reduce it to nothing, without nature thereby 
failing of her purpose. For reason recognizes the establishment 
of a good will as its highest practical destination, and in 
attaining this purpose is capable only of a satisfaction of its 
own proper kind, namely, that from the attainment of an end, 
which end again is determined by reason only, notwithstanding 
that this may involve many a disappointment to the end* of 
inclination (10). 

We have then to develop the notion of a will which deserves 
to be highly esteemed for itself, and is good without a view to 


anything further, a notion which exists already in the sound 
natural understanding, requiring rather to be cleared up than 
to be taught, and which in estimating the value of our actions 
always takes the first place, and constitutes the condition of all 
the rest. In order to do this, we will take the notion of duty, 
which includes that of a good will, although implying certain 
subjective restrictions and hindrances. These, however, far 
from concealing it, or rendering it unrecognizable, rather 
bring it out by contrast, and make it shine forth so much 
the brighter. 

I omit here all actions which are already recognized as 
inconsistent with duty, although they may be useful for this or 
that purpose, for with these the question whether they are done 
from did]/ cannot arise at all, since they even conflict with it. I 
also set aside those actions which really conform to duty, but to 
which men have no direct inclination, performing them because 
they are impelled thereto by some other inclination. For in 
this case we can readily distinguish whether the action which 
agrees with duty is done from duty, or from a selfish view. It 
is much harder to make this distinction when the action accords 
with duty, and the subject has besides a direct inclination to it. 
For example, it is always a matter of duty that a dealer should 
not overcharge an inexperienced purchaser ; and wherever there 
is much commerce the prudent tradesman does not overcharge, 
but keeps a fixed price for everyone, so that a child buys of him 
as well as any other. Men are thus honestly served ; but this is 
not enough to make us believe that the tradesman has so acted 
from duty and from principles of honesty : his own advantage 
required it ; it is out of the question in this case to suppose that 
he might besides have a direct inclination in favour of the 
buyers, so that (17), as it were, from love he should give no 
advantage to one over another. Accordingly the action was 
done neither from duty nor from direct inclination, but merely 
with a selfish view. 

On the other hand, it is a duty to maintain one s life ; and, 
in addition, everyone has also a direct inclination to do so. But 
on this account the often anxious care which most men take for 


it has no intrinsic worth, and their maxim has no moral import. 
They preserve their life as duty requires, no doubt, but not 
because duty requires. On the other hand, if adversity and 
hopeless sorrow have completely t. ken away the relish for life ; 
if the unfortunate one, strong in mind, indignant at his fate 
rather than desponding or dejected, wishes for death, and yet 
preserves his life without loving it not from inclination or 
fear, but from duty then his maxim has a moral worth. 

To be beneficent when we can is a duty ; and besides this, 
there are many minds so sympathetically constituted that, 
without any other motive of vanity or self-interest, they find a 
pleasure in spreading joy around them, and can take delight 
in the satisfaction of others so far as it is their own work. But 
I maintain that in such a case an action of this kind, however 
proper, however amiable it may be, has nevertheless no true moral 
worth, but is on a level with other inclinations, c.y. the inclination 
to honour, which, if it is happily directed to that which is in 
fact of public utility and accordant with duty, and consequently 
honourable, deserves praise and encouragement, but not esteem. 
For the maxim lacks the moral import, namely, that such 
actions be done/row- duty, not from inclination. Put the case 
that the mind of that philanthropist was clouded by sorrow 
of his own (is), extinguishing all sympathy with the lot of 
others, and that while he still has the power to benefit others in 
distress, he is not touched by their trouble because he is 
absorbed with his own ; and now suppose that he tears himself 
out of this dead insensibility, and performs the action without 
any inclination to it, but simply from duty, then first has his 
action its genuine moral worth. Further still ; if nature has put 
little sympathy in the heart of this or that man ; if he, supposed 
to be an upright man, is by temperament cold and indifferent to 
the sufferings of others, perhaps because in respect of his own 
he is provided with the special gift of patience and fortitude, 
and supposes, or even requires, that others should have the 
same and such a man would certainly not be the meanest 
product of nature but if nature had not specially framed him 
for a philanthropist, would he not still find in himself a source 


from whence to give himself a far higher worth than that of a 
good-natured temperament could be ? Unquestionably. It is 
just in this that the moral worth of the character is brought out 
which is incomparably the highest of all, namely, that he is 
beneficent, not from inclination, but from duty. 

To secure one s own happiness is a duty, at least indirectly ; 
for discontent with one s condition, under a pressure of many 
anxieties and amidst unsatisfied wants, might easily become a 
great temptation to trangression of duty. But here again, without 
looking to duty, all men have already the strongest and most 
intimate inclination to happiness, because it is just in this idea 
that all inclinations are combined in one total. But the precept 
of happiness is often of such a sort that it greatly interferes with 
some inclinations, and yet a man cannot form any definite and 
certain conception of the sum of satisfaction of all of them 
which is called happiness (19). It is not then to be wondered 
at that a single inclination, definite both as to what it promises 
and as to the time within which it can be gratified, is often able 
to overcome such a fluctuating idea, and that a gouty patient, 
for instance, can choose to enjoy what he likes, and to suffer 
what he may, since, according to his calculation, on this occasion 
at least, he has [only] not sacrificed the enjoyment of the 
present moment to a possibly mistaken expectation of a happiness 
which is supposed to be found in health. But even in this 
case, if the general desire for happiness did not influence his 
will, and supposing that in his particular case health was not a 
necessary element in this calculation, there yet remains in this, 
as in all other cases, this law, namely, that he should promote 
his happiness not from inclination but from duty, and by this 
would his conduct first acquire true moral worth. 

It is in this manner, undoubtedly, that we are to understand 
those passages of Scripture also in which we are commanded to 
love our neighbour, even our enemy. For love, as an affection, 
cannot be commanded, but beneficence for duty s sake may; 
even though we are not impelled to it by any inclination nay, 
are even repelled by a natural and unconquerable aversion. This 
is practical love, and not pathological a love which is seated in 


the will, and not in the propensions of sense in principles of 
action and not of tender sympathy ; and it is this love alone 
which can be commanded. 

The second 1 proposition is : That an action done from duty 
derives its moral worth, not from the purpose which is to be 
attained by it, but from the maxim by which it is determined, 
and therefore does not depend on the realization of the object of 
the action, but merely on the principle of volition by which the 
actioji has taken place, without regard to any object of desire (20). 
It is clear from what precedes that the purposes which we may 
have in view in our actions, or their effects regarded as ends and 
springs of the will, cannot give to actions any unconditional or 
moral worth. In what, then, can their worth lie, if it is not to 
consist in the will and in reference to its expected effect ? It 
cannot lie anywhere but in the principle of tlic will without 
regard to the ends which can be attained by the action. For 
the will stands between its a priori principle, which is formal, 
and its u posteriori spring, which is material, as between two 
roads, and as it must be determined by something, it follows 
that it must be determined by the formal principle of volition 
when an action is done from duty, in which case every material 
principle has been withdrawn from it. 

The third proposition, which is a consequence of the two 
preceding, I would express thus : Duty is the necessity of acting 
from respect for the /.? /. I may have inclination for an object 
as the effect of my proposed action, but I cannot have respect 
for it, just for this reason, that it is an effect and not an energy 
of will. Similarly, I cannot have respect for inclination, whether 
my own or another s ; I can at most, if my own, approve it ; if 
another s, sometimes even love it ; i.e. look on it as favourable 
to my own interest. It is only what is connected with my will 
as a principle, by no means as an effect what does not subserve 
my inclination, but overpowers it, or at least in case of choice 
excludes it from its calculation in other words, simply the law 

1 [The first proposition was that to have moral worth an action must be 
done from duty.] 


of itself, which can be an object of respect, and hence a com 
mand. Now an action done from duty must wholly exclude 
the influence of inclination, and with it every object of the will, 
so that nothing remains which can determine the will except 
objectively the law, and subjectively pure respect (21) for this 
practical law, and consequently the maxim 1 that I should follow 
this law even to the thwarting of all my inclinations. 

Thus the moral worth of an action does not lie in the effect 
expected from it, nor in any principle of action which requires 
to borrow its motive from this expected effect. For all these 
effects agreeableness of one s condition, and even the promo 
tion of the happiness of others could have been also brought 
about by other causes, so that for this there would have been no 
need of the will of a rational being ; whereas it is in this alone 
that the supreme and unconditional good can be found. The 
pre-eminent good which we call moral can therefore consist in 
nothing else than tie conception of law in itself, which certainly 
is only possible in a rational l)cin<j, in so far as this conception, 
and not the expected effect, determines the will. This is a 
good which is already present in the person who acts accord 
ingly, and we have not to wait for it to appear first in the 
result 2 (22). 

But what sort of law can that be, the conception of which 
must determine the will, even without paying any regard to the 

1 A maxim is the subjective principle of volition. The objective 
principle (i. e. that which would also serve subjectively as a practical 
principle to all rational beings if reason had full power over the faculty 
of desire) is the practical law. 

-It might be here objected to me that I take refuge behind the word 
respect in an obscure feeling, instead of giving a distinct solution of the 
question by a concept of the reason. But although respect is a feeling, it is 
not a feeling received through influence, but is self-trrowjht by a rational 
concept, and, therefore, is specifically distinct from all feelings of the former 
kind, which may be referred either to inclination or fear. What I recog 
nize! immediately as a law for me, I recognize with respect. This merely 
signifies the consciousness that my will is subordinate to a law, without the 
intervention of other influences on my sense. The immediate determination 
of the will by the law, and the consciousness of this, is called respect, so that 


effect expected from it, in order that this will may be called 
good absolutely and without qualification ? As I have deprived 
the will of every impulse which could arise to it from obedience 
to any law, there remains nothing but the universal conformity 
of its actions to law in general, which alone is to serve the will 
as a principle, i. c. I am never to act otherwise than so that 1 
could also will that my maxim should become a universal la v. Here, 
now, it is the simple conformity to law in general, without 
assuming any particular law applicable to certain actions, that 
serves the will as its principle, and must so serve it, if duty is 
not to be a vain delusion and a chimerical notion. The common 
reason of men in its practical judgments perfectly coincides with 
this, and always has in view the principle here suggested. Let 
the question be, for example : May I when in distress make a 
promise with the intention not to keep it ? I readily distin 
guish here between the two significations which the question 
may have : Whether it is prudent (23), or whether it is right, to 
make a false promise ? The former may undoubtedly often be 
the case. I see clearly indeed that it is not enough to extricate 
myself from a present difficulty by means of this subterfuge, 
but it must be well considered whether there may not hereafter 
spring from this lie much greater inconvenience than that from 
which I now free myself, and as, with all my supposed cunninf/, 
the consequences cannot be so easily foreseen but that credit 

this is regarded as an effect of the law on the subject, and not as the cause 
of it. Respect is properly the (22) conception of a worth which thwarts 
my self-love. Accordingly it is something which is considered neither as 
an object of inclination nor of fear, although it has something analogous 
to both. The object of respect is the laiv only, and that, the law which 
we impose on ourkelvcs, and yet recognize as necessary in itself. As a law, 
we are subjected to it without consulting self-love ; as imposed by us on 
ourselves, it is a result of our will. In the former aspect it has an analogy 
to fear, in the latter to inclination. Respect for a person is properly only 
respect for the law (of honesty, &c.) of which he gives us an example. 
Since we also look on the improvement of our talents as a duty, we con 
sider that we see in a person of talents, as it were, the example of a law 
(viz. to become like him in this by exercise), and this constitutes our 
respect. All so-called moral interest consists simply in respect for the law. 


once lost may be much more injurious to me than any mischief 
which I seek to avoid at present, it should be considered whether 
it would not be more priident to act herein according to a uni 
versal maxim, and to make it a habit to promise nothing except 
with the intention of keeping it. But it is soon clear to me that 
such a maxim will still only be based on the fear of conse 
quences. Now it is a wholly different thing to be truthful from 
duty, and to be so from apprehension of injurious consequences. 
In the first case, the very notion of the action already implies a 
law for me ; in, the second case, I must first look about elsewhere 
to see what results may be combined with it which would affect 
myself. For to deviate from the principle of duty is beyond all 
doubt wicked ; but to be unfaithful to my maxim of prudence 
may often be very advantageous to me, although to abide by it 
is certainly safer. The shortest way, however, and an unerring 
one, to discover the answer to this question whether a lying 
promise is consistent with duty, is to ask myself, Should I be 
content that my maxim (to extricate myself from difficulty by 
a false promise) should hold good as a universal law , for myself 
as well as for others ? and should I be able to say to myself, 
" Every one may make a deceitful promise when he finds him 
self in a difficulty from which he cannot otherwise extricate 
himself " ? (24) Then I presently become aware that while I 
can will the lie, I can by no means will that lying should be a 
universal law. For with such a law there would be no promises 
at all, since it would be in vain to allege my intention in regard 
to my future actions to those who would not believe this allega 
tion, or if they over-hastily did so, would pay me back in my 
own coin. Hence my maxim, as soon as it should be made a 
universal law, would necessarily destroy itself. 

I do not, therefore, need any far-reaching penetration to 
discern what 1 have to do in order that my will may be 
morally good. Inexperienced in the course of the world, in 
capable of being prepared for all its contingencies, I only ask 
myself: Canst thou also will that thy maxim should be a 
universal law *. If not, then it must be rejected, and that not 
because of a disadvantage accruing from it to myself or even to 



others, but because it cannot enter as a principle into a possible 
universal legislation, and reason extorts from me immediate re 
spect for such legislation. I do not indeed as yet (fixccrn on what 
this respect is based (this the philosopher may inquire), but at 
least 1 understand this, that it is an estimation of the worth 
which far outweighs all worth of what is recommended by 
inclination, and that the necessity of acting from -pure respect 
for the practical law is what constitutes duty, to which every 
other motive must give place, because it is the condition of a 
will being good in itself, and the worth of such a will is above 

Thus, then, without quitting the moral knowledge of 
common human reason, we have arrived at its principle. And 
although, no doubt, common men do not conceive it in such an 
abstract and universal form, yet they always have it really 
before their eyes, and use it as the standard of their decision. 
Here it would be easy to show how, with this compass in 
hand (_>,")), men are well able to distinguish, in every case that 
occurs, what is good, what bad, conformably to duty or incon 
sistent with it, if, without in the least teaching them anything 
new, we only, like Socrates, direct their attention to the principle 
they themselves employ ; and that, therefore, we do not need 
science and philosophy to know what we should do to be honest 
and good, yea, even wise and virtuous. Indeed we might well 
have conjectured beforehand that the knowledge of what every 
man is bound to do, and therefore also to know, would be within 
the reach of every man, even the commonest. 1 Here we cannot 
forbear admiration when we see how great an advantage the 
practical judgment has over the theoretical in the common un 
derstanding of men. In the latter, if common reason ventures 
to depart from the laws of experience and from the perceptions 
of the senses, it falls inio mere inconceivabilities and self-con 
tradictions, at least into a chaos of uncertainty, obscurity, and 

; [Compare the note to the preface to the Criti<[nc / the I ntciical 
7?< (iSuH,p.lll. A specimen of Kiuit s proposed application of the Socratic 
method may be found in Mr. Semple s translation of the Mct( t>hijsic of 
Ethics, p. 2W.] 


instability. But in the practical sphere it is just \vhen the 
common understanding excludes all sensible springs from prac 
tical laws that its power of judgment begins to show itself to 
advantage. It then becomes even subtle, whether it be that it 
chicanes with its own conscience or with other claims respecting 
what is to be called right, or whether it desires for its own 
instruction to determine honestly the worth of actions; and, in 
the latter case, it may even have as good a hope of hitting the 
mark as any philosopher whatever can promise himself. Nay, 
it is almost more sure of doing so, because the philosopher 
cannot have any other principle, while he may easily perplex 
his judgment by a multitude of considerations foreign to the 
matter, and so turn aside from the right way. Would it not 
therefore be wiser in moral concerns to acquiesce in the judg 
ment of common reason (20), or at most only to call in philosophy 
for the purpose of rendering the system of morals more complete 
and intelligible, and its rules more convenient for use (especially 
for disputation), but not so as to draw off the common under 
standing from its happy simplicity, or to bring it by means of 
philosophy into a new path of inquiry and instruction ? 

Innocence is indeed a glorious thing, only, on the other 
hand, it is very sad that it cannot well maintain itself, and is 
easily seduced. On this account even wisdom which other 
wise consists more in conduct than in knowledge yet has need 
of science, not in order to learn from it, but to secure for its 
precepts admission and permanence. Against all the commands 
of duty which reason represents to man as so deserving of 
respect, he feels in himself a powerful counterpoise in his wants 
and inclinations, the entire satisfaction of which he sums up 
under the name of happiness. Now reason issues its commands 
unyieldingly, witliout promising any tiling to the inclinations, 
and, as it were, with disregard and contempt for these claims, 
which are so impetuous, and at the same time so plausible, and 
which will not allow themselves to be suppressed by any com 
mand. Hence there arises a natural dialectic, i.e. a disposition, 
to argue against these strict laws of duty and to question their 
validity, or at least their purity and strictness ; and, if possible, 


to make them more accordant with our wishes and inclinations, 
that is to say, to corrupt them at their very source, and entirely 
to destroy their worth a thing which even common practical 
reason cannot ultimately call good. 

Thus is the common reason of man compelled to go out of its 
sphere, and to take a step into the field of ^practical philosophy, 
not to satisfy any speculative want (which never occurs to it as 
long as it is content to be mere sound reason), but even on prac 
tical grounds (27), in order to attain in it information and clear 
instruction respecting the source of its principle, and the correct 
determination of it in opposition to the maxims which are based 
on wants and inclinations, so that it may escape from the per 
plexity of opposite claims, and not run the risk of losing all 
genuine moral principles through the equivocation into which 
it easily falls. Thus, when practical reason cultivates itself, 
there insensibly arises in it a dialectic which forces it to seek 
aid in philosophy, just as happens to it in its theoretic use ; 
and in this case, therefore, as well as in the other, it will tind 
rest nowhere but in a thorough critical examination of our 




IF we have hitherto drawn our notion of duty from the com 
mon use of our practical reason, it is by no means to be inferred 
that we have treated it as an empirical notion. On the con 
trary, if we attend to the experience of men s conduct, we 
meet frequent and, as we ourselves allow, just complaints that 
one cannot find a single certain example of the disposition to 
act from pure duty. Although many things are done in confor 
mity with what duty prescribes, it is nevertheless always doubtful 
whether they are done strictly from duty, so as to have a moral 
worth. Hence there have at all times been philosophers who 
have altogether denied that this disposition actually exists at all 
in human actions, and have ascribed everything to a more or 
less refined self-love. Not that they have on that account 
questioned the soundness of the conception of morality ; on the 
contrary, they spoke with sincere regret of the frailty and cor 
ruption of human nature, which though noble enough to take 
as its rule an idea so worthy of respect, is yet too weak to 
follow it, and employs reason, which ought to give it the law (29) 
only for the purpose of providing for the interest of the 
inclinations, whether singly or at the best in the greatest 
possible harmony with one another. 

In fact, it is absolutely impossible to make out by expe 
rience with complete certainty a single case in which the 
maxim of an action, however right in itself, rested simply on 
moral grounds and on the conception of duty. Sometimes it 
happens that with the sharpest self-examination we can find 
nothing beside the moral principle of duty which could have 
been powerful enough to move us to this or that action and to 
so great a sacrifice ; yet we cannot from this infer with certainty 


that it was not really some secret impulse of self-love, under the 
false appearance of duty, that was the actual determining cause 
of the will. We like then to flatter ourselves by falseh taking 
credit for a more noble motive ; whereas in fact we can never, 
even by the strictest examination, get completely behind the 
secret springs of action ; since, when the question is of moral 
worth, it is not with the actions which we see that we are 
concerned, but with those inward principles of them which we 
do not see. 

Moreover, we cannot better serve the wishes of those who 
ridicule all morality as a mere chimera of human imagination 
overstepping itself from vanity, than by conceding to them that 
notions of duty must be drawn only from experience (as from 
indolence, people are ready to think is also the case with all 
other notions) ; for this is to prepare for them a certain triumph. 
I am willing to admit out of love of humanity that even most 
of our actions are correct, but if we look closer at them we every 
where come upon the dear self which is always prominent, and 
it is this they have in view, and not the strict command of duty 
which would often require self-denial (30). Without being an 
enemy of virtue, a cool observer, one that does not mistake the 
wish for good, however lively, for its reality, may sometimes 
doubt whether true virtue is actually found anywhere in the 
world, and this especially as years increase and the judgment is 
partly made wiser by experience, and partly also more acute in 
observation. This being so, nothing can secure us from falling 
away altogether from our ideas of duty, or maintain in the soul 
a well-grounded respect for its law, but the clear conviction that 
although there should never have been actions which really 
sprang from such pure sources, yet whether this or that takes 
place is not at all the question ; but that reason of itself, inde 
pendent on all experience, ordains what ought to take place, 
that accordingly actions of which perhaps the world has hitherto 
never given an example, the feasibility even of which might be 
very much doubted by one who founds everything on expe 
rience, are nevertheless inllcxibly commanded by reason ; that, 
ex. (jr., even though there might never yet have been a sincere 


friend, yet not a whit the less is pure sincerity in friendship 
required of every man, because, prior to all experience, this 
duty is involved as duty in the idea of a reason determining 
the will by d priori principles. 

When we add further that, unless we deny that the notion 
of morality has any truth or reference to any possible object, we 
must admit that its law must be valid, not merely for men. but 
for all rational ercatvres generally, not merely under certain con 
tingent conditions or with exceptions, but with absolute necessity, 
then it is clear that no experience could enable us to infer even 
the possibility of such apodictic laws (31). For with what right 
could we bring into unbounded respect as a universal precept 
for every rational nature that which perhaps holds only under 
the contingent conditions of humanity ? Or how could laws of 
the determination of our will be regarded as laws of the deter 
mination of the will of rational beings generally, and for us 
only as such, if they were merely empirical, and did not take 
their origin wholly d priori from pure but practical reason ) , 

Jsor could anything be more fatal to morality than that we 
should wish to derive it from examples. For every example of 
it that is set before me must be first itself tested by principles 
of morality, whether it is worthy to serve as an original example, 
i.e. as a pattern, but by nc means can it authoritatively furnish 
the conception of morality. Even the Holy One of the Gospels 
must first be compared with our ideal of moral perfection before 
we can recognize Him as such ; and so He says of Himself, 
" Why call ye Me [whom you see] good ; none is good [the 
model of good] but God only [whom ye do not see] ? " But 
whence have we the conception of God as the supreme good ? 
Simply from the idea of moral perfection, which reason frames 
d priori, and connects inseparably with the notion of a free will. 
Imitation finds no place at all in morality, and examples serve 
only for encouragement, i.e. they put beyond doubt the feasi 
bility of what the law commands, they make visible that which 
the practical rule expresses more generally, but they can never 
authorize us to set aside the true original which lies in reason, 
and to guide ourselves by examples. 


If then there is no genuine supreme principle of morality 
but what must rest simply on pure reason, independent on all 
experience, I think it is not necessary even to put the question, 
whether it is good (32) to exhibit these concepts in their gene 
rality (in abstracto) as they are established d priori along with 
the principles belonging to them, if our knowledge is to be 
distinguished from the vulgar, and to be called philosophical. 
In our times indeed this might perhaps be necessary ; for if we 
collected votes, whether pure rational knowledge separated from 
everything empirical, that is to say, metaphysic of morals, or 
whether popular practical philosophy is to be preferred, it is 
easy to guess which side would preponderate. 

This descending to popular notions is certainly very com 
mendable, if the ascent to the principles of pure reason has first 
taken place and been satisfactorily accomplished. This implies 
that we first found Ethics on Metaphysics, and then, when it is 
firmly established, procure a hearing for it by giving it a popular 
character. But it is quite absurd to try to be popular in the 
first inquiry, on which the soundness of the principles depends. 
It is not only that this proceeding can never lay claim to the 
very rare merit of a true philosophical popularity, since there is 
no art in being intelligible if one renounces all thoroughness of 
insight ; but also it produces a disgusting medley of compiled 
observations and half-reasoned principles. Shallow pates enjoy 
this because it can be used for every-day chat, but the sagacious 
find in it only confusion, and being unsatisfied and unable to 
help themselves, they turn away their eyes, while philosophers, 
who see quite well through this delusion, are little listened to 
when they call men off for a time from this pretended popu 
larity, in order that they might be rightfully popular after they 
have attained a definite insight. 

We need only look at the attempts of moralists in that 
favourite fashion, and we shall find at one time the special 
constitution of human nature (33) (including, however, the idea 
of a rational nature generally), at one time perfection, at 
another happiness, here moral sense, there fear of God, a little 
of this ; and a little of that, in marvellous mixture, without its 


occurring to them to ask whether the principles of morality are 
to be sought in the knowledge of human nature at all (which we 
can have only from experience) ; and, if this is not so, if these 
principles are to be found altogether d priori free from every 
thing empirical, in pure rational concepts only, and nowhere 
else, not even in the smallest degree ; then rather to adopt the 
method of making this a separate inquiry, as pure practical 
philosophy, or (if one may use a name so decried) as metaphysic 
of morals, 1 to bring it by itself to completeness, and to require 
the public, which wishes for popular treatment, to await the 
issue of this undertaking. 

Such a metaphysic of morals, completely isolated, not mixed 
with any anthropology, theology, physics, or hyperphysics, and 
still less with occult qualities (which we might call hypophysical), 
is not only an indispensable substratum of all sound theoretical 
knowledge of duties, but is at the same time a desideratum of 
the highest importance to the actual fulfilment of their precepts. 
For the pure conception of duty, unmixed with any foreign 
addition of empirical attractions (34), and, in a word, the 
conception of the moral law, exercises on the human heart, by 
way of reason alone (which first becomes aware with this that it 
can of itself be practical), an influence so much more powerful 
than all other springs 2 whiclr may be derived from the field of 
experience, that in the consciousness of its worth, it despises 
the latter, and can by degrees become their master ; whereas a 
mixed ethics, compounded partly of motives drawn from feelings 
and inclinations, and partly also of conceptions of reason, must 

1 Just as pure mathematics are distinguished from applied, pure logic 
from applied, so if we choose we may also distinguish pure philosophy of 
morals (metaphysic) from applied (viz. applied to human nature). By this 
designation we are also at once reminded that moral principles are not 
based on properties of human nature, but must subsist a priori, of 
themselves, while from such principles practical rules must be capable of 
being deduced for every rational nature, and accordingly for that of man. 

2 I have a letter from the late excellent Sulzer, in which he asks me 
what can be the reason that moral instruction, although containing much 
that is convincing for the reason, yet accomplishes so little ? My answer 
was postponed in order that I might make it complete. But it is simply 


make the mind waver between motives which cannot he brought 
under any principle, which lead to good only by mere accident, 
And very often also to evil. 

From what has been said, it is clear that all moral con 
ceptions have their seat and origin completely a priori in the 
reason, and that, moreover, in the commonest reason just as truly 
as in that which is in the highest degree speculative ; that they 
cannot be obtained by abstraction from any empirical, and 
therefore merely contingent knowledge ; that it is just this purity 
of their origin that makes them worthy to serve as our supreme 
practical principle (35), and that just in proportion as we add 
anything empirical, we detract from their genuine influence, and 
from the absolute value of actions ; that it is not only of the 
greatest necessity, in a purely speculative point of view, but is also 
of the greatest practical importance, to derive these notions and 
laws from pure reason, to present them pure and unmixed, and 
even to determine the compass of this practical or pure rational 
knowledge, i.e. to determine the whole faculty of pure practical 
reason ; and, in doing so, we must not make its principles 
dependent on the particular nature of human reason, though in 
speculative philosophy this may be permitted, or may even at 
times be necessary ; but since moral laws ought to hold good for 
every rational creature, we must derive them from the general 
concept of a rational being. In this way, although for its 
application to man morality has need of anthropology, yet, in 
the first instance, we must treat it independently as pure 

this, that the teachers themselves have not got their own notions clear, 
and when they endeavour to make up for this by raking up motives of 
moral goodness from every quarter, trying to make their physic right 
strong, they spoil it. For the commonest understanding shows that if 
we imagine, on the one hand, an act of honesty done with steadfast mind, 
aparfc from every view to advantage of any kind in this world or another, 
and even under the greatest temptations of necessity or allurement, and, 
on the other hand, a similar act which was affected, in however low a 
degree, by a foreign motive, the former leaves far behind and eclipses the 
second ; it elevates the soul, and inspires the wish to be able to act in like 
manner oneself. Even moderately young children feel this impression, 
and one should never represent duties to them in any other light. 


philosophy, i.e. as metaphysic, complete in itself (a thing which 
in such distinct branches of science is easily done) ; knowing 
well that unless we are in possession of this, it would not only be 
vain to determine the moral element of duty in right actions 
for purposes of speculative criticism, but it would be impossible 
to base morals on their genuine principles, even for common 
practical purposes, especially of moral instruction, so as to 
produce pure moral dispositions, and to engraft them on men s 
minds to the promotion of the greatest possible good in the world. 

But in order that in this study we may not merely advance 
by the natural steps from the common moral judgment (in this 
case very worthy of respect) to the philosophical, as has been 
already done, but also from a popular philosophy, which goes no 
further than it can reach by groping with the help of examples, 
to metaphysic (which does not allow itself to be checked by 
anything empirical (SG), and as it must measure the whole extent 
of this kind of rational knowledge, goes as far as ideal concep 
tions, where even examples fail us), we must follow and 
clearly describe the practical faculty of reason, from the general 
rules of its determination to the point where the notion of 
duty springs from it. 

Everything in nature works according to laws. Rational 
beings alone have the faculty of acting according to the conception 
of laws, that is according to principles, i.e. have a u*iH. Since 
the deduction of actions from principles requires recson, the 
will is nothing but practical reason. If reason infallibly 
determines the will, then the actions of such a being which are 
recognized as objectively necessary are subjectively necessary 
also. i.e. the will is a faculty to choose that only which reason 
independent on inclination recognizes as practically necessary, 
i.e. as good. lUit if reason of itself does not sufficiently determine 
the will, if the latter is subject also to subjective conditions 
(particular impulses) which do not always coincide with the 
objective conditions; in a word, if the will does not in itself 
completely accord with reason (which is actually the case with 
men), then the actions which objectively are recognized as 
necessary are subjectively contingent, and the determination of 


such a will according to objective laws is obligation, that is to say, 
the relation of the objective laws to a will that is not thoroughly 
good is conceived as the determination of the will of a rational 
being by principles of reason, but which the will from its nature 
does not of necessity follow. 

The conception of an objective principle, in so far as it is 
obligatory for a will, is called a command (of reason), and the 
formula of the command is called an Imperative. 

All imperatives are expressed by the word ouyht [or shalf], 
and thereby indicate the relation of an objective law (37) of 
reason to a will, which from its subjective constitution is 
not necessarily determined by it (an obligation). They say 
that something would be good to do or to forbear, but they say 
it to a will which does not always do a thing because it is 
conceived to be good to do it. That is practically good, 
however, which determines the will by means of the conceptions 
of reason, and consequently not from subjective causes, but 
objectively, that is on principles which are valid for every 
rational being as such. It is distinguished from the pleasant. a,s 
that which influences the will only by means of sensation from 
merely subjective causes, valid only for the sense of this or 
that one, and not as a principle of reason, which holds for every 
one. 1 

1 The dependence of the desires on sensations is called inclination, 
and this accordingly always indicates a ivant. The dependence of a con 
tingently determinable will on principles of reason is called an inten^st. 
This, therefore, is found only in the case of a dependent will which does 
not always of itself conform to reason ; in the Divine will we cannot 
conceive any interest. But the human will can also take an interest in a 
thing without therefore acting from interest. The former signifies the 
practical interest in the action, the latter the patholoyical in the object of 
the action. The former indicates only dependence of the will on principles 
of reason in themselves ; the second, dependence on principles of reason 
for the sake of inclination, reason supplying only the practical rules how 
the requirement of the inclination may be satisfied. In the first case the 
action interests me ; in the second the object of the action (because it is 
pleasant to me). We have seen in the first section that in an action done 
from duty we must look not to the interest in the object, but only to that 
in the action itself, and in its rational principle (viz. the law). 


A perfectly good will would therefore be equally subject to 
objective laws (viz. laws of good), but could not be conceived as 
obliged thereby to act lawfully, because of itself from its sub 
jective constitution it can only be determined by the conception 
of good (38). Therefore no imperatives hold for the Divine 
will, or in general for a holy will ; ought is here out of place, 
because the volition is already of itself necessarily in unison 
with the law. Therefore imperatives are only formulae to 
express the relation of objective laws of all volition to the sub 
jective imperfection of the will of this or that rational being, 
e.g. the human will. 

Now all imperatives command either liypothetically or cate 
gorically. The former represent the practical necessity of a 
possible action as means to something else that is willed (or at 
least which one might possibly will). The categorical impera 
tive would be that which represented an action as necessary 
of itself without reference to another end, i.e., as objectively 

Since every practical law represents a possible action as 
good, and on this account, for a subject who is practically 
determinable by reason, necessary, all imperatives are formula? 
determining an action which is necessary according to the 
principle of a will good in some respects. If now the action is 
good only as a means to something else, then the imperative is 
hypothetical , if it is conceived as goodm itself &ud consequently 
as being necessarily the principle of a will which of itself con 
forms to reason, then it is categorical. 

Thus the imperative declares what action possible by me 
would be good, and presents the practical rule in relation to 
a will which does not forthwith perform an action simply 
because it is good, whether because the subject does not always 
know that it is good, or because, even if it know this, yet its 
maxims might be opposed to the objective principles of practical 

Accordingly the hypothetical imperative only says that the 
action is good for some purpose, possible or actual (39). In the 
first case it is a Problematical, in the second an Assertorial 


practical principle. The categorical imperative which declares 
an action to be objectively necessary in itself without reference 
to any purpose, >. ?. without any other end, is valid as an 
Apodictic (practical) principle. 

Whatever is possible only by the power of some rational 
being may also be conceived as a possible purpose of some will ; 
and therefore the principles of action as regards the means 
necessary to attain some possible purpose are in fact infinitely 
numerous. All sciences have a practical part, consisting of 
problems expressing that some end is possible for us, and of 
imperatives directing how it may be attained. These may, 
therefore, be called in general imperatives of Skill. Here there 
is no question whether the end is rational and good, but only 
what one must do in order to attain it. The precepts for the 
physician to make his patient thoroughly healthy, and for a 
poisoner to ensure certain death, are of equal value in this 
respect, that each serves to effect its purpose perfectly. Since 
in early youth it cannot be known what ends are likely to occur 
to us in the course of life, parents seek to have their children 
taught a (jrcat mon;/ tJiini/s, and provide for tlieii skill in the use 
of means for all sorts of arbitrary ends, of none of which can 
they determine whether it may not perhaps hereafter be an 
object to their pupil, but which it is at all events posxihtc that 
he might aim at : and this anxiety is so great that they 
commonly neglect to form and correct their .judgment on the 
value of the things which may be chosen as ends (40). 

There is our end, however, which may be assumed to be 
actually such to all rational beings (so far as imperatives apply 
to them, viz. as dependent beings), and, therefore, one purpose 
which they not merely /// /// have, but which we may with 
certainty assume that they all actually by a natural neces 
sity, and this is li^jijiiitc.^. The hypothetical imperative which 
expresses the practical necessity of an action as means to the 
advancement of happiness is Assertorial. We are not to present 
it as necessary for an uncertain and merely possible purpose, 
but for a purpose which we may presuppose with certainty and 
a priui-i in every man, because it belongs to his being. Now 


skill in the choice of means to his own greatest well-being 
may be called pmdence, 1 in the narrowest sense. And thus 
the imperative which refers to the choice of means to one s 
own happiness, i.e. the precept of prudence, is still always 
hypothetical ; the action is not commanded absolutely, but only 
as means to another purpose. 

Finally, there is an imperative which commands a certain 
conduct immediately, without having as its condition any other 
purpose to be attained by it. This imperative is Categorical. 
It concerns not the matter of the action, or its intended result, 
but its form and the principle of which it is itself a result (41) ; 
and what is essentially good in it consists in the mental dispo 
sition, let the consequence be what it may. This imperative 
may be called that of Morality. 

There is a marked distinction also between the volitions on 
these three sorts of principles in the dissimilarity of the obliga 
tion of the will. In order to mark this difference more clearly, 
I think they would be most suitably named in their order if we 
said they are either rules of skill, or counsels of prudence, or 
commands (laws) of morality. For it is law only that involves 
the conception of an unconditional and objective necessity, which 
is consequently universally valid; and commands are laws 
which must be obeyed, that is, must be followed, even in oppo 
sition to inclination. Counsels, indeed, involve necessity, but 
one which can only hold under a contingent subjective condi 
tion, viz. they depend on whether this or that man reckons this 
or that as part of his happiness ; the categorical imperative, on 

1 The word prudence is taken in two senses : in the one it may bear the 
name of knowledge of the world, in the other that of private prudence. 
The former is a man s ability to influence others so as to use them for his 
own purposes. The latter is the sagacity to combine all these purposes for 
his own lasting benefit. This latter is properly that to which the value 
even of the former is reduced, and when a man is prudent in the former 
sense, but not in the latter, we might better say of him that he is clever 
and cunning, but, on the whole, imprudent. [Compare on the difference 
between klug and gescheu here alluded to, Anthropoloyie, 45, ed. Schubert, 
p. 110.] 



the contrary, is not limited by any condition, and as being 
absolutely, although practically, necessary, may be quite pro 
perly called a command. We might also call the first kind of 
imperatives technical (belonging to art), the second praymatic 1 
(to welfare), the third moral (belonging to free conduct gene 
rally, that is, to morals). 

Xow arises the question, how are all these imperatives 
possible ? This question does not seek to know how we can 
conceive the accomplishment of the action which the imperative 
ordains, but merely how we can conceive the obligation of the 
will (42) which the imperative expresses. No special explana 
tion is needed to show how an imperative of skill is possible. 
Whoever wills the end, wills also (so far as reason decides his 
conduct) the means in his power which are indispensably 
necessary thereto. This proposition is, as regards the volition, 
analytical ; for, in willing an object as my effect, there is 
already thought the causality of myself as an acting cause, that 
is to say, the use of the means ; and the imperative educes from 
the conception of volition of an end the conception of actions 
necessary to this end. Synthetical propositions must no doubt 
be employed in defining the means to a proposed end; but they 
do not concern the principle, the act of the will, but the object 
and its realization. Ex. (jr., that in order to bisect a line on 
an unerring principle I must draw from its extremities two 
intersecting arcs ; this no doubt is taught by mathematics only 
in synthetical propositions; but if I know that it is only by this 
process that the intended operation can be performed, then to 
say that if I fully will the operation, I also will the action 
required for it, is an analytical proposition ; for it is one and 
the same thing to conceive something as an effect which I can 

1 It seems to me that the proper signification of the word pratpruitic 
may be most accurately defined in this way. For sanctions [see Cr. of 
Pmct. Reas., p. 271] are called pragmatic which flow properly, not from 
the law of the states as necessary enactments, but trom precaution for the 
general welfare. A history is composed pragmatically when it teaches 
prudence, i.e. instructs the world how it can provide for its interests 
better, or at least as well as the men of former time. 


produce in a certain way, and to conceive myself as acting in 
this way. 

If it were only equally easy to give a definite conception of 
happiness, the imperatives of prudence would correspond exactly 
with those of skill, and would likewise be analytical. For in 
this case as in that, it could be said, whoever wills the end, 
wills also (according to the dictate of reason necessarily) the 
indispensable means thereto which are in his power. But, 
unfortunately, the notion of happiness is so indefinite that 
although every man wishes to attain it, yet he never can say 
definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes and 
wills (43). The reason of this is that all the elements which 
belong to the notion of happiness are altogether empirical, i. e. 
they must be borrowed from experience, and nevertheless the 
idea of happiness requires an absolute whole, a maximum of 
welfare in my present and all future circumstances. Now it is 
impossible that the most clear-sighted and at the same time 
most powerful being (supposed finite) should frame to himself a 
definite conception of what he really wills in this. Does he 
will riches, how much anxiety, envy, and snares might he not 
thereby draw upon his shoulders ? Does he will knowledge 
and discernment, perhaps it might prove to be only an eye so 
much the sharper to show him so much the more fearfully the 
evils that are now concealed from him, and that cannot be 
avoided, or to impose more wants on his desires, which already 
give him concern enough. Would he have long life ? who 
guarantees to him that it would not be a long misery ? would 
he at least have health ? how often has uneasiness of the body 
restrained from excesses into which perfect health would have 
allowed one to fall ? and so on. In short, he is unable, on any 
principle, to determine with certainty what would make him 
truly happy ; because to do so he would need to be omniscient. 
We cannot therefore act on any definite principles to secure 
happiness, but only on empirical counsels, ex. yr. of regimen, 
frugality, courtesy, reserve, &c., which experience teaches do, 
on the average, most promote well-being. Hence it follows 
that the imperatives of prudence do not, strictly speaking, 



command at all, that is, they cannot present actions objectively 
as practically necessary ; that they are rather to be regarded as 
counsels (consilin) than precepts (prcecepta) of reason, that the 
problem to determine certainly and universally (44) what action 
would promote the happiness of a rational being is completely 
insoluble, and consequently no imperative respecting it is pos 
sible which should, in the strict sense, command to do what 
makes happy ; because happiness is not an ideal of reason but 
of imagination, resting solely on empirical grounds, and it is 
vain to expect that these should define an action by which one 
could attain the totality of a series of consequences which is 
really endless. This imperative of prudence would, however, 
be an analytical proposition if we assume that the means to 
happiness could be certainly assigned ; for it is distinguished 
from the imperative of skill only by this, that in the latter the 
end is merely possible, in the former it is given ; as, however, 
both only ordain the means to that which we suppose to be 
willed as an end, it follows that the imperative which ordains 
the willing of the means to him who wills the end is in both 
cases analytical. Thus there is no difficulty in regard to the 
possibility of an imperative of this kind either. 

On the other hand, the question, how the imperative of 
morality is possible, is undoubtedly one, the only one, demand 
ing a solution, as this is not at all hypothetical, and the objec 
tive necessity which it presents cannot rest on any hypothesis, 
as is the case with the hypothetical imperatives. Only here we 
must never leave out of consideration that we cannot make out 
li/ any example, in other words empirically, whether there is 
such an imperative at all ; but it is rather to be feared that all 
those which seem to be categorical may yet be at bottom hypo 
thetical. For instance, when the precept is : Thou shalt not 
promise deceitfully ; and it is assumed that the necessity of 
this is not a mere counsel to avoid some other evil, so that it 
should mean : Thou shalt not make a lying promise, lest if it 
become known thou shouldst destroy thy credit (45), but that an 
action of this kind must be regarded as evil in itself, so that 
the imperative of the prohibition is categorical ; then we cannot 


show with certainty in any example that the will was deter 
mined merely by the law, without any other spring of action, 
although it may appear to be so. For it is always possible that 
fear of disgrace, perhaps also obscure dread of other dangers, 
may have a secret influence on the will. Who can prove by 
experience the non-existence of a cause when all that experience 
tells us is that we do not perceive it ? But in such a case the 
so-called moral imperative, which as such appears to be 
categorical and unconditional, would in reality be only a prag 
matic precept, drawing our attention to our own interests, and 
merely teaching us to take these into consideration. 

We shall therefore have to investigate a priori the possi 
bility of a categorical imperative, as we have not in this case 
the advantage of its reality being given in experience, so that 
[the elucidation of] its possibility should be requisite only for 
its explanation, not for its establishment. In the meantime it 
may be discerned beforehand that the categorical imperative 
alone has the purport of a practical law : all the rest may 
indeed be called principles of the will but not laws, since 
whatever is only necessary for the attainment of some arbitrary 
purpose may be considered as in itself contingent, and we can 
at any time be free from the precept if we give up the purpose : 
on the contrary, the unconditional command leaves the will no 
liberty to choose the opposite ; consequently it alone carries 
with it that necessity which we require in a law. 

Secondly, in the case of this categorical imperative or law of 
morality, the difficulty (of discerning its possibility) is a very 
profound one (45). It is an d priori synthetical practical pro 
position 1 ; and as there is so much difficulty in discerning the 

1 I connect the act with the will without presupposing any condition 
resulting from any inclination, but u priori, and therefore necessarily 
(though only objectively, i.e. assuming the idea of a reason possessing full 
power over all subjective motives). This is accordingly a practical propo 
sition which does not deduce the willing of an action by mere analysis 
from another already presupposed (for we have not such a perfect will), 
but connects it immediately with the conception of the will of a rational 
being, as something not contained in it. 


possibility of speculative propositions of this kind, it may 
readily be supposed that the difficulty will be no less with the 

In this problem we will first inquire whether the mere con 
ception of a categorical imperative may not perhaps supply us 
also with the formula of it, containing the proposition which 
alone can be a categorical imperative ; for even if we know the 
tenor of such an absolute command, yet how it is possible will 
ivquire further special and laborious study, which we postpone 
to tin 1 last section. 

When I conceive a hypothetical imperative, in general I do 
not know beforehand what it will contain until I am given the 
condition. T>ut when I conceive a categorical imperative, 1 
know at once what it contains. For as the imperative contains 
besides the law only the necessity that the maxims 1 shall con 
form to this law, while the law contains no conditions restricting 
it, there remains nothing but the general statement that the 
maxim of the action should conform to a universal law (47), and 
it is this conformity alone that the imperative properly represents 
as necessary. 2 

There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely, 
this : Ad only on that maxim whereby tlwu canst at the same time 
/</// tli at it should become a universal lav. 

Xow if all imperatives of duty can be deduced from this one 
imperative as from their principle, then, although it should 
remain undecided whether what is called duty is not merely a 

A MAXIM is a subjective principle of action, and must be distinguished 
from the objective principle, namely, practical law. The former contains the 
practical rule set by reason according to the conditions of the subject 
(often its ignorance or its inclinations), so that it is the principle on which 
the subject nctx ; but the law is the objective principle valid for every 
rational being, and is the principle on which it ought to act that is an 

[I have no doubt that " den " in the original before " Imperativ " 
is a misprint for "der," and have translated accordingly. Mr. Semplu 
has done the same. The editions that I have seen agree in reading 
den," and Mr. Barni so translates. With this reading, it is the 
conformity that presents the imperative as necessary.] 


vain notion, yet at least we shall be able to show what we 
understand by it and what this notion means. 

Since the universality of the law according to which effects 
are produced constitutes what is properly called nature in the 
most general sense (as to form), that is the existence of things 
so far as it is determined by general laws, the imperative of 
duty may be expressed thus : Act as if the maxim of thy action 
were to become l>y thy mil a universal law of nature. 

We will now enumerate a few duties, adopting the usual 
division of them into duties to ourselves and to others, and into 
perfect and imperfect duties. 1 (43) 

1. A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes 
feels wearied of life, but is still so far in possession of his reason 
that he can ask himself whether it would not be contrary to his 
duty to himself to take his own life. Now he inquires whether 
the maxim of his action could become a universal -law of nature. 
His maxim is : From self-love I adopt it as a principle to 
shorten my life when its longer duration is likely to bring 
more evil than satisfaction. It is asked then simply whether 
this principle founded on self-love can become a universal 
law of nature. Now we see at once that a system of nature 
of which it should be a law to destroy life by means of the 
very feeling whose special nature it is to impel to the improve 
ment of life would contradict itself, and therefore could not 
exist as a system of nature; hence that maxim cannot pos 
sibly exist as a universal law of nature, and consequently 

1 It must be noted here that I reserve the division of duties for a future 
metnphysic of morals ;.so that I give it here only as an arbitrary one (in 
order to arrange my examples). For the rest, I understand by a perfect 
duty one that admits no exception in favour of inclination, and then 1 
have not merely external but also internal perfect duties. This is contrary 
to the use of the word adopted in the schools ; but I do not intend to justify 
it here, as it is all one for my purpose whether it is admitted or not. 
[Perfect duties are usually understood to be those which can be enforced by 
external law ; -imperfect, those which cannot be enforced. They are also 
called respectively determinate and indeterminate, officiu juris and officio 


would be wholly inconsistent with the supreme principle of all 
duty. 1 

2. Another finds himself forced by necessity to borrow 
money. He knows that he will not be able to repay it, but 
sees also that nothing will be lent to him, unless he promises 
stoutly to repay it in a definite time. He desires to make this 
promise, but he has still so much conscience as to ask himself : 
Is it not unlawful and inconsistent with duty to get out of a 
difficulty in this way ? Suppose, however, that he resolves to 
do so, then the maxim of his action would be expressed thus : 
When I think myself in want of money, I will borrow money 
and promise to repay it, although I know that I never can do 
so. Now this principle of self-love or of one s own advantage 
may perhaps be consistent with my whole future welfare ; but 
the question now is, Is it right ? I change then the suggestion 
of self-love into a universal law, and state the question thus (49) : 
How would it be if my maxim were a universal law ? Then I 
see at once that it could never hold as a universal law of 
nature, but would necessarily contradict itself. For supposing 
it to be a universal law that everyone when he thinks himself 
in a difficulty should be able to promise whatever he pleases, 
with the purpose of not keeping his promise, the promise itself 
would become impossible, as well as the end that one might 
have in view in it, since no one would consider that anything 
was promised to him, but would ridicule all such statements as 
vain pretences. 

3. A third finds in himself a talent which with the help of 
some culture might make him a useful man in many respects. 
But he finds himself in comfortable circumstances, and prefers 
to indulge in pleasure rather than to take pains in enlarging 
and improving his happy natural capacities. He asks, how 
ever, whether his maxim of neglect of his natural gifts, besides 
agreeing with his inclination to indulgence, agrees also with 
what is called duty. He sees then that a system of nature 
could indeed subsist with such a universal law although men 

1 [On suicide cf. further Metaphysik der Sitten, p. 274.] 


(like the South Sea islanders) should let their talents rest, and 
resolve to devote their lives merely to idleness, amusement, and 
propagation of their species in a word, to enjoyment ; but he 
cannot possibly will that this should be a universal law of 
nature, or be implanted in us as such by a natural instinct. 
For, as a rational being, he necessarily wills that his faculties 
be developed, since they serve him, and have been given him, 
for all sorts of possible purposes. 

4. A fourth, who is in prosperity, while he sees that others 
have to contend with great wretchedness and that he could 
help them, thinks : What concern is it of mine ? Let everyone 
be as happy (so) as Heaven pleases, or as he can make himself ; 
I will take nothing from him nor even envy him, only I do not 
wish to contribute anything to his welfare or to his assistance in 
distress ! Now no doubt if such a mode of thinking were a 
universal law, the human race might very well subsist, and 
doubtless even better than in a state in which everyone talks of 
sympathy and good-will, or even takes care occasionally to put 
it into practice, but, on the other side, also cheats when he can, 
betrays the rights of men, or otherwise violates them. But 
although it is possible that a universal law of nature might 
exist in accordance with that maxim, it is impossible to will that 
such a principle should have the universal validity of a law 
of nature. For a will which resolved this would contradict 
itself, inasmuch as many cases might occur in which one would 
have need of the love and sympathy of others, and in which, by 
such a law of nature, sprung from his own will, he would 
deprive himself of all hope of the aid he desires. 

These are a few of the many actual duties, or at least what 
we regard as such, which obviously fall into two classes on the 
one principle that we have laid down. We must be able to it-ill 
that a maxim of our action should be a universal law. This 
is the canon of the moral appreciation of the action generally. 
Some actions are of such a character that their maxim cannot 
without contradiction be even conceived as a universal law of 
nature, far from it being possible that we should will that it 
should be so. In others this intrinsic impossibility is not 


found, but still it is impossible to mil that their maxim should 
be raised to the universality of a law of nature, since such a 
will would contradict itself. It is easily seen that the former 
violate strict or rigorous (inflexible) duty (51) ; the latter only 
laxer (meritorious) duty. Thus it has been completely shown 
by these examples how all duties depend as regards the nature 
of the obligation (not the object of the action) on the same 

It now we attend to ourselves on occasion of any transgres 
sion of duty, we shall find that we in fact do not will that our 
max tin should be a universal law, for that is impossible for us ; 
on the contrary, we will that the opposite should remain a 
universal law, only we assume the liberty of making an Deception 
in our own favour or (just for this time only) in favour of our 
inclination. Consequently if we considered all cases from one 
and the same point of view, namely, that of reason, we should 
find a contradiction in our own will, namely, that a certain prin 
ciple should be objectively necessary as a universal law, and yet 
subjectively should not be universal, but admit of exceptions. 
As, however, we at one moment regard our action from the point 
of view of a will wholly conformed to reason, and then again 
look at the same action from the point of view of a will affected 
by inclination, there is not really any contradiction, but an 
antagonism of inclination to the precept of reason, whereby the 
universality of the principle is changed into a mere generality, 
so that the practical principle of reason shall meet the maxim 
half way. Xow, although this cannot be justified in our own 
impartial judgment, yet it proves that we do really recognize 
the validity of the categorical imperative and (with all respect 
for it) only allow ourselves a few exceptions, which we think 
unimportant and forced from us. 

We have thus established at least this much, that if duty is 
a conception which is to have any import and real legislative 
authority for our actions (52), it can only be expressed in 
categorical, and not at all in hypothetical imperatives. We 
have also, which is of great importance, exhibited clearly and 
definitely for every practical application the content of the 


categorical imperative, which must contain the principle of all 
duty if there is such a thing at all. We have not yet, however, 
advanced so far as to prove a priori that there actually is such 
an imperative, that there is a practical law which commands 
absolutely of itself, and without any other impulse, and that the 
following of this law is duty. 

With the view of attaining to this it is of extreme impor 
tance to remember that we must not allow ourselves to think of 
deducing the reality of" this principle from the particular attri 
butes of human nature. For duty is to be a practical, uncondi 
tional necessity of action ; it must therefore hold for all rational 
beings (to whom an imperative can apply at all), and for this 
reason only be also a law for all human wills. On the contrary, 
whatever is deduced from the particular natural characteristics 
of humanity, from certain feelings and propensions, 1 nay, even, 
if possible, from any particular tendency proper to human 
reason, and which need not necessarily hold for the will of 
every rational being ; this may indeed supply us with a maxim, 
but not with a law; with a subjective principle on which we 
may have a propension and inclination to act, but not with 
an objective principle on which we should be enjoined to act, 
even though all our propensions, inclinations, and natural dis 
positions were opposed to it. In fact, the sublimity and intrinsic 
dignity of the command in duty are so much the more evident, 
the less the subjective impulses favour it and the more they 
oppose it, without being able in the slightest degree to weaken 
the obligation of the law or to dimmish its validity (53). 

Here then we see philosophy brought to a critical position, 
since it has to be firmly fixed, notwithstanding that it has 
nothing to support it in heaven or earth. Here it must 
show its purity as absolute director of its own laws, not the 

[ ! Kant distinguishes " Hang (propensio) " from " Neigung (indinatio) " 
as follows : "Hang" is a predisposition to the desire of some enjoyment ; 
in other words, it is the subjective possibility of excitement of a certain 
desire which precedes the conception of its object. When the enjoyment 
has been experienced, it produces a " Neigung " (inclination) to it, which 
accordingly is denned " habitual sensible desire." Anthropologie, 72,79; 
Religion, p. 31.] 


herald of those which are whispered to it by an implanted sense 
or who knows what tutelary nature. Although these may be 
better than nothing, yet they can never afford principles dic 
tated by reason, which must have their source wholly a priori 
and thence their commanding authority, expecting everything 
from the supremacy of the law and the due respect for it 
nothing from inclination, or else condemning the man to self- 
contempt and inward abhorrence. 

Thus every empirical element is not only quite incapable of 
being an aid to the principle of morality, but is even highly 
prejudicial to the purity of morals ; for the proper and inestim 
able worth of an absolutely good will consists just in this, that 
the principle of action is free from all influence of contingent 
grounds, which alone experience can furnish. We cannot too 
much or too often repeat our warning against this lax and even 
mean habit of thought which seeks for its principle amongst 
empirical motives and laws ; for human reason in its weariness 
is glad to rest on this pillow, and in a dream of sweet illusions 
(in which, instead of Juno, it embraces a cloud) it substitutes 
for morality a bastard patched up from limbs of various deri 
vation, which looks like anything one chooses to see in it ; only 
not like virtue to one who has once beheld her in her true 
form. 1 

(54) The question then is this: Is it a necessary law/cr all 
rational bcinys that they should always judge of their actions 
by maxims of which they can themselves will that they should 
serve as universal laws ? If it is so, then it must be connected 
(altogether a priori] with the very conception of the will of a 
rational being generally. But in order to discover this con 
nexion we must, however reluctantly, take a step into meta- 
physic, although into a domain of it which is distinct from 
speculative philosophy, namely, the metaphysic of morals. In 

1 To behold virtue in her proper form is nothing else but to contemplate 
morality stripped of all admixture of sensible things (54) and of every 
spurious ornament of reward or self-love. How much she then eclipses 
everything else that appears charming to the affections, every one may 
readily perceive with the least exertion of his reason, if it be not wholly 
spoiled for abstraction. 


a practical philosophy, where it is not the reasons of what 
happens that we have to ascertain, but the laws of what ought 
to happen, even although it never does, i. e. objective practical 
laws, there it is not necessary to inquire into the reasons why 
anything pleases or displeases, how the pleasure of mere sen 
sation differs from taste, and whether the latter is distinct from 
a general satisfaction of reason ; on what the feeling of pleasure 
or pain rests, and how from it desires and inclinations arise, 
and from these again maxims by the co-operation of reason : for 
all this belongs to an empirical psychology, which would con 
stitute the second part of physics, if we regard physics as the 
philosophy of nature, so far as it is based on empirical laws. But 
here we are concerned with objective practical laws, and con 
sequently with the relation of the will to itself so far as it 
is determined by reason alone, in which case whatever has 
reference to anything empirical is necessarily excluded ; since 
if reason of itself alone determines the conduct (55) (and it is the 
possibility of this that we are now investigating), it must 
necessarily do so a priori. 

The will is conceived as a faculty of determining oneself to 
action in accordance with the conception of certain laws. And such 
a faculty can be found only in rational beings. Now that which 
serves the will as the objective ground of its self-determination 
is the end, and if this is assigned by reason alone, it must hold 
for all rational beings. On the other hand, that which merely 
contains the ground of possibility of the action of which the 
effect is the end, this is called the means. The subjective 
ground of the desire is the spring, the objective ground of 
the volition is the motive ; hence the distinction between sub 
jective ends which rest on springs, and objective ends which 
depend on motives valid for every rational being. Practical 
principles are formal when they abstract from all subjective 
ends ; they are material when they assume these, and therefore 
particular springs of action. The ends which a rational being 
proposes to himself at pleasure as effects of his actions (material 
ends) are all only relative, for it is only their relation to the 
particular desires of the subject that gives them their worth, 


which therefore cannot furnish principles universal and neces 
sary for all rational beings and for every volition, that is to say 
practical laws. Hence all these relative ends can give rise only 
to hypothetical imperatives. 

Supposing, however, that there were something whose 
existence has in itself an absolute worth, something which, 
being an end in itself, could be a source of definite laws, then in 
this and this alone would lie the source of a possible categorical 
imperative, i. c. a practical law (50). 

Now I say : man and generally any rational being exists as 
an end in himself, not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used 
by this or that will, but in all his actions, whether they concern 
himself or other rational beings, must be always regarded at the 
same time as an end. > All objects of the inclinations have only a 
conditional worth; for if the inclinations and the wants founded 
on them did not exist, then their object would be without value. 
But the inclinations themselves being sources of want are so far 
from having an absolute worth for which they should be desired, 
that, on the contrary, it must be the universal wish of every 
rational being to be wholly free from them. Thus the worth 
of any object which is to lie acquired by our action is always 
conditional. Beings whose existence depends not on our will 
but on nature s, have nevertheless, if they are rational beings, 
only a relative value as means, and are therefore called th inf/s ; 
f rational beings, on the contrary, are called persons, because their 
very nature points them out as ends in themselves, that is as 
something which must not be used merely as means, and so far 
therefore restricts freedom of action (and is an object of respect). , 
These, therefore, are not merely subjective ends whose existence 
has a worth for us as an effect of our action, but object in? ends, 
that is things whose existence is an end in itself : an end more 
over for which no other can be substituted, which they should 
subserve merely as means, for otherwise nothing whatever would 
possess absolute worth ; but if all worth were conditioned and 
therefore contingent, then there would be no supreme practical 
principle of reason whatever. 

If then there is a supreme practical principle or, in respect of 


the human will, a categorical imperative, it must be one which (57), 
being drawn from the conception of that which is necessarily 
a"n end for everyone because it is an end in itself, constitutes 
an objective principle of will, and can therefore serve as a 
universal practical law. The foundation of this principle is : 
rational nature exists as an end in itself. Man necessarily con 
ceives his own existence as being so : so far then this is a *b- 
jcctivc principle of human actions. But every other rational 
being regards its existence similarly, just on the same rational 
principle that holds for me 1 : so that it is at the same time an 
objective principle, from which as a supreme practical law all 
laws of the will must be capable of being deduced. Accordingly 
the practical imperative will be as follows : So act as to treat 
humanity, whether in thine o ten person or in that of any other, in 
every case as an end withal, never as means only. We will now 
inquire whether this can be practically carried out. 

To abide by the previous examples : 

Firstly, under the head of necessary duty to oneself : He 
who contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action 
can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself. 
If he destroys himself in order to escape from painful circum 
stances, he uses a person merely as a mean to maintain a toler 
able condition up to the end of life. But a man is not a thing, 
that is to say, something which can be used merely as means, 
but must in all his actions be always considered as an end in 
himself. I cannot, therefore, dispose in any way of a man in 
my own person so as to mutilate him, to damage or kill him (58). 
(It belongs to ethics proper to define this principle more pre 
cisely, so as to avoid all misunderstanding, e. y. as to the 
amputation of the limbs in order to preserve myself ; as to 
exposing my life to danger with a view to preserve it, &c. This 
question is therefore omitted here.) 

Secondly, as regards necessary duties, or those of strict 
obligation, towards others ; he who is thinking of making a lying 

1 This proposition is here stated as a postulate. The ground of it 
will be found in the concluding section. 


promise to others will see at once that he would be using another 
man merely as a mean, without the latter containing at the same 
time the end in himself. For he whom I propose by such a 
promise to use for my own purposes cannot possibly assent to 
my mode of acting towards him, and therefore cannot himself 
contain the end of this action. This violation of the principle 
of humanity in other men is more obvious if we take in 
examples of attacks on the freedom and property of others. For 
then it is clear that he who transgresses the rights of men 
intends to use the person of others merely as means, without 
considering that as rational beings they ought always to be 
esteemed also as ends, that is, as beings who must be capable of 
containing in themselves the end of the very same action. 1 

Thirdly, as regards contingent (meritorious) duties to one 
self ; it is not enough that the action does not violate humanity 
in our own person as an end in itself, it must also harmonize 
with it (59). Now there are in humanity capacities of greater 
perfection which belong to the end that nature has in view in 
regard to humanity in ourselves as the subject : to neglect these 
might perhaps be consistent with the maintenance of humanity 
as an end in itself, but not with the advancement of this end. 

Fourthly, as regards meritorious duties towards others : the 
natural end which all men have is their own happiness. Xow 
humanity might indeed subsist, although no one should contri 
bute anything to the happiness of others, provided he did not 
intentionally withdraw anything from it; but after all, this 
would only harmonize negatively, not positively, with humanity. 

1 Let it not be thought that the common : quod tibi non vis fieri, etc., 
could serve here as the rule or principle. For it is only a deduction from 
the former, though with several limitations ; it cannot be a universal law, 
for it does not contain the principle of duties to oneself, nor of the duties 
of benevolence to others (for many a one would gladly consent that 
others should not benefit him, provided only that he might be excused 
from showing benevolence to them), nor finally that of duties of strict 
obligation to one another, for on this principle the criminal might argue 
against the judge who punishes him, and so on. 


as an end in itself, if everyone does not also endeavour, as far 
as in him lies, to forward the ends of others. For the ends of 
any subject which is an end in himself, ought as far as possible 
to be my ends also, if that conception is to have its full effect 
with me. 

This principle, that humanity and generally every rational 
nature is an end in itself (which is the supreme limiting con 
dition of every man s freedom of action), is not borrowed from 
experience, firstly, because it is universal, applying as it does to 
all rational beings whatever, and experience is not capable of 
determining anything about them ; secondly, because it does not 
present humanity as an end to men (subjectively), that is as an 
object which men do of themselves actually adopt as an end ; 
but as an objective end, which must as a law constitute the 
supreme limiting condition of all our subjective ends, let them 
be what we will ; it must therefore spring from pure reason. 
In fact the objective principle of all practical legislation lies 
(according to the first principle) in the rule and its form of 
universality which makes it capable of being a law (say, e.g., a 
law of nature) ; but the subjective principle is in the end ; now 
by the second principle the subject of all ends is each rational 
being (GO) inasmuch as it is an end in itself. Hence follows 
the third practical principle of the will, which is the ultimate 
condition of its harmony with the universal practical reason, 
viz. : the idea of the will of every rational being as a universally 
legislative will. 

On this principle all maxims are rejected which are incon 
sistent with the will being itself universal legislator. Thus the 
will is not subject simply to the law, but so subject that it 
must be regarded as itself giving the law, and on this ground 
only, subject to the law (of which it can regard itself as the 

In the previous imperatives, namely, that based on the con 
ception of the conformity of actions to general laws, as in a 
physical system of nature, and that based on the universal pre 
rogative of rational beings as ends in themselves these impera 
tives just because they were conceived as categorical, excluded 



from any share in their authority all admixture of any interest 
as a spring of action; they were, however, only assumed to he 
categorical, because such an assumption was necessary to ex 
plain the conception of duty. But we could not prove inde 
pendently that there are practical propositions which command 
categorically, nor can it be proved in this section ; one thing, 
however, could be done, namely, to indicate in the imperative 
itself by some determinate expression, that in the case of 
volition from duty all interest is renounced, which is the specific 
criterion of categorical as distinguished from hypothetical 
imperatives. This is done in the present (third) formula of 
the principle, namely, in the idea of the will of every rational 
being as a universally legislating will. 

(ei) For although a will which is subject to law* may he 
attached to this law by means of an interest, yet a will which 
is itself a supreme lawgiver so far as it is such cannot possibly 
depend on any interest, since a will so dependent would itself 
still need another law restricting the interest of its self-love 
by the condition that it should be valid as universal law. 

Thus the principle that every human will is a will which in 
all its maxims (jives universal laws, 1 provided it be otherwise 
justified, would be very well adapted to be the categorical 
imperative, in this respect, namely, that just because of the idea 
of universal legislation it is not based on any interest, and there 
fore it alone among all possible imperatives can be unconditional. 
Or still better, converting the proposition, if there is a categorical 
imperative (i. e., a law for the will of every rational being), it 
can only command that everything be done from maxims of 
one s will regarded as a will which could at the same time will 
that it should itself give universal laws, for in that case only 
the practical principle and the imperative which it obeys are 
unconditional, since they cannot be based on any interest. 

Looking back now on all previous attempts to discover the 

1 I may be excused from adducing examples to elucidate this principle, 
as those which have already been used to elucidate the categorical 
imperative and its formula would all serve for the like purpose} here. 


principle of morality, we need not wonder why they all failed. 
It was seen that man was bound to laws by duty, but it was 
not observed that the laws to which he is subject are only those 
of his own giving, though at the same time they are universal (62), 
and that he is only bound to act in conformity with his own 
will ; a will, however, which is designed by nature to give 
universal laws. For when one has conceived man only as 
subject to a law (no matter what), then this law required some 
interest, either by way of attraction or constraint, since it did 
not originate as a law from his own will, but this will was 
according to a law obliged by something else to act in a certain 
manner. Now by this necessary consequence all the labour 
spent in finding a supreme principle of duty was irrevocably 
lost. For men never elicited duty, but only a necessity of 
acting from a certain interest. Whether this interest was 
private or otherwise, in any case the imperative must be con 
ditional, and could not by any means be capable of being a 
moral command. I will therefore call this the principle of 
Autonomy of the will, in contrast with every other which I 
accordingly reckon as Hdcronomy? 

The conception of every rational being as one which must 
consider itself as giving in all the maxims of its will universal 
laws, so as to judge itself and its actions from this point of 
view this conception leads to another which depends on it and 
is very fruitful, namely, that of a kingdom of ends. 

By a kingdom I understand the union of different rational 
beings in a system by common laws. Now since it is by laws 
that ends are determined as regards their universal validity, 
hence, if we abstract from the personal differences of rational 
beings, and likewise from all the content of their private ends, 
we shall be able to conceive all ends combined in a systematic 
whole (including both rational beings as ends in themselves, and 
also the special ends which each may propose to himself), that 
is to say, we can conceive a kingdom of ends, which on the 
preceding principles is possible. 

1 [Cp. Critical Examination of Practical Reason, p. 184.] 


(e;?) For all rational beings come under the lav." that each of 
them must treat itself and all others never merely as means, but in 
every case at the same time as ends in themselves. Hence results a 
systematic union of rational beings by common objective laws, 
/./ ., a kingdom which may be called a kingdom of ends, since 
what these laws have in view is just the relation of these beings 
to one another as ends and means. It is certainly only an 

A rational being belongs as a member to the kingdom of ends 
when, although giving universal laws in it, he is also himself 
subject to these laws. He belongs to it as sovereign when, while 
giving laws, he is not subject to the will of any other. 

A rational being must always regard himself as giving laws 
either as member or as sovereign in a kingdom of ends which is 
rendered possible by the freedom of will. He cannot, however, 
maintain the latter position merely by the maxims of his will, 
but only in case he is a completely independent being without 
wants and with unrestricted power adequate to his will. 

Morality consists then in the reference of all action to the 
legislation which alone can render a kingdom of ends possible. 
This legislation must be capable of existing in every rational 
being, and of emanating from his will, so that the principle of 
this will is, never to act on any maxim which could not without 
contradiction be also a universal law, and accordingly always so 
to act that the will could at the same time regard itself as giving in 
its maxims iniiwrsal lavs. If now the maxims of rational beings 
are not by their own nature coincident with this objective 
principle, then the necessity of acting on it is called practical 
necessitation (54), i. e. duty. Duty does not apply to the 
sovereign in the kingdom of ends, but it does to every member 
of it and to all in the same degree. 

The practical necessity of acting on this principle, i. e. duty. 
does not rest at all on feelings, impulses, or inclinations, but 
solely on the relation of rational beings to one another, a 
relation in which the will df a rational being must always be 
regarded d&leyixl<itiri > 1 since otherwise it could not be conceived 
as mi ml in itself. Ileason then refers every maxii i of the will, 


regarding it as legislating universally, to every other will and 
also to every action towards oneself; and this not on account 
of any other practical motive or any future advantage, but from 
the idea of the diynity of a rational being, obeying no law but 
that which he himself also gives. 

In the kingdom of ends everything has either Value or 
Dignity. Whatever has a value can be replaced by something 
else which is equivalent ; whatever, on the other hand, is 
above all value, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has 
a dignity. 

Whatever has reference to the general inclinations and 
wants of mankind has a market value ; whatever, without pre 
supposing a want, corresponds to a certain taste, that is to a 
satisfaction in the mere purposeless play of our faculties, has a 
fancy value; but that which constitutes the condition under 
which alone anything can be an end in itself, this has not 
merely a relative worth, i.e. value, but an intrinsic worth, that 
is dignity. 

Now morality is the condition under which alone a rational 
being can be an end in himself, since by this alone it is possible 
that he should be a legislating member in the kingdom of ends. 
Thus morality, and humanity as capable of it, is that which 
alone has dignity (GO). Skill and diligence in labour have a 
market value; wit, lively imagination, and humour, have fancy 
value ; on the other hand, fidelity to promises, benevolence 
from principle (not from instinct), have an intrinsic worth. 
Neither nature nor art contains anything which in default of 
these it could put in their place, for their worth consists not 
in the effects which spring from them, not in the use and ad 
vantage which they secure, but in the disposition of mind, that 
is, the maxims of the will which are ready to manifest them 
selves in such actions, even though they should not have the 
desired effect, These actions also need no recommendation 
from any subjective taste or sentiment, that they may be 
looked on with immediate favour and satisfaction : they need 
no immediate propension or feeling for them ; they exhibit the 
will that performs them as an object of an immediate respect, 


and nothing but reason is required to impose them on the will ; 
not to flatter it into them, which, in the case of duties, would be 
a contradiction. This estimation therefore shows that the worth 
of such a disposition is dignity, and places it infinitely above 
all value, with which it cannot for a moment be brought into 
comparison or competition without as it were violating its 

What then is it which justifies virtue or the morally good 
disposition, in making such lofty claims ? It is nothing less 
than the privilege it secures to the rational being of participat 
ing in the giving of universal laws, by which it qualifies him to 
be a member of a possible kingdom of ends, a privilege to which 
he was already destined by his own nature as being an end in 
himself, and on that account legislating in the kingdom of ends; 
free as regards all laws of physical nature, and obeying those 
only which he himself gives and by which his maxims can 
belong to a system of universal law, to which at the same time 
he submits himself. For nothing has any worth except (66) what 
the law assigns it. Now the legislation itself which assigns the 
worth of everything must for that very reason possess dignity, 
that is an unconditional incomparable worth ; and the word 
respect alone supplies a becoming expression for the esteem 
which a rational being must have for it. Autonomi/ then 
is the basis of the dignity of human and of every rational 

The three modes of presenting the principle of morality that 
have been adduced are at bottom only so many formula- of the 
very same law, and each of itself involves the other two. There 
is, however, a difference in them, but it is rather subjectively 
than objectively practical, intended namely to bring an 
idea of the reason nearer to intuition (by means of a certain 
analogy), and thereby nearer to feeling. All maxims, in fact, 

1. A farm, consisting in universality; and in this view the 
formula of the moral imperative is expressed thus, that the 
maxims must be so chosen as if they were to serve as universal 
laws of nature. 


2. A matter, 1 namely, an end, and here the formula says 
that the rational being, as it is an end by its own nature and 
therefore an end in itself, must in every maxim serve as the 
condition limiting all merely relative and arbitrary ends. 

3. A complete characterisation of all maxims by means of 
that formula, namely, that all maxims ought by their own 
legislation to harmonize with a possible kingdom of ends as 
with a kingdom of nature 2 (GT). There is a progress here in the 
order of the categories of unity of the form of the will (its 
universality), plurality of the matter (the objects, i.e. the ends), 
and totality of the system of these. In forming our moral 
judgment of actions it is better to proceed always on the strict 
method, and start from the general formula of the categorical 
imperative: Act according to a maxim which can at the same time 
make itself a universal law. If, however, we wish to gain an 
entrance for the moral law, it is very useful to bring one and 
the same action under the three specified conceptions, and 
thereby as far as possible to bring it nearer to intuition. 

We can now end where we started at the beginning, namely, 
with the conception of a will unconditionally good. That will 
is absolutely good which cannot be evil in other words, whose 
maxim, if made a universal law, could never contradict itself. 
This principle, then, is its supreme law : Act always on such a 
maxim as thou canst at the same time will to be a universal 
law ; this is the sole condition under which a will can never 
contradict itself ; and such an imperative is categorical. Since 
the validity of the will as a universal law for possible actions is 
analogous to the universal connexion of the existence of things 
by general laws, which is the formal notion of nature in general, 

1 [The reading "Maxirne," which is that both of Rosenkranz and 
Hartenstein, is obviously an error for " Materie."] 

- Teleology considers nature as a kingdom of ends ; Ethics regards a 
possible kingdom of _ ends as a kingdom of nature. In the nrst case, the 
kingdom of ends is a theoretical idea, adopted to explain what actually is. 
In the latter it is a practical idea, adopted to bring about that which is not 
yet, but which can be realized by our conduct, namely, if it conforms to 
this idea. 


the categorical imperative can also be expressed thus: Act on 
maxims which can at the same time have for their object themselves 
as universal lavs of nature. Such then is the formula of an 
absolutely good will. 

Rational nature is distinguished from the rest of nature by 
this, that it sets before itself an end. This end would be the 
matter of every good will (es). But since in the idea of a will 
that is absolutely good without being limited by any condition 
(of attaining this or that end) we must abstract wholly from 
every end to be effected (since this would make every will only 
relatively good), it follows that in this case the end must be 
conceived, not as an end to be effected, but as an independently 
existing end. Consequently it is conceived only negatively, 
i.e., as that which we must never act against, and which, there 
fore, must never be regarded merely as means, but must in 
every volition be esteemed as an end likewise. Now this end 
can be nothing but the subject of all possible ends, since this is 
also the subject of a possible absolutely good will ; for such a 
will cannot without contradiction be postponed to any other 
object. This principle : So act in regard to every rational 
being (thyself and others), that he may always have place in 
thy maxim as an end in himself, is accordingly essentially 
identical with this other : Act upon a maxim which, at the 
same time, involves its own universal validity for every rational 
being. For that in using means for every end I should limit 
my maxim by the condition of its holding good as a law for 
every subject, this comes to the same thing as that the funda 
mental principle of all maxims of action must be that the 
subject of all ends, i.e., the rational being himself, be never 
employed merely as means, but as the supreme condition 
restricting the use of all means, that is in every case as an 
end likewise. 

It follows incontestably that, to whatever laws any rational 
being may be subject, he being an end in himself must l>e able 
tf regard himself as also legislating universally in respect of 
these same laws, since it is just this fitness of his maxims for 
universal legislation that distinguishes him as an end in himself; 


also it follows that this implies his dignity (prerogative) above 
all mere physical beings, that he must always take his (eg) 
maxims from the point of view which regards himself, and 
likewise every other rational being, as lawgiving beings (on 
which account they are called persons). In this way a world of 
rational beings (nmndus intelligibilis) is possible as a kingdom of 
ends, and this by virtue of the legislation proper to all persons 
as members. Therefore every rational being must so act as 
if he were by his maxims in every case a legislating member 
in the universal kingdom of ends. The formal principle of 
these maxims is : So act as if thy maxim were to serve likewise 
as the universal law (of all rational beings). A kingdom of 
ends is thus only possible on the analogy of a kingdom of 
nature, the former, however, only by maxims, that is self- 
imposed rules, the latter only by the laws of efficient causes 
acting under necessitation from without. Nevertheless, although 
the system of nature is looked upon as a machine, yet so far as 
it has reference to rational beings as its ends, it is given on 
this account the name of a kingdom of nature. Now such a 
kingdom of ends would be actually realized by means of 
maxims conforming to the canon which the categorical impera 
tive prescribes to all rational beings, if they were universally 
followed. But although a rational being, even if he punctually 
follows this maxim himself, cannot reckon upon all others being 
therefore true to the same, nor expect that the kingdom of 
nature and its orderly arrangements shall be in harmony with 
him as a fitting member, so as to form a kingdom of ends to 
which he himself contributes, that is to say, that it shall favour 
his expectation of happiness, still that law : Act according to 
the maxims of a member of a merely possible kingdom of ends 
legislating in it universally, remains in its full force, inasmuch 
as it commands categorically. And it is just in this that the 
paradox lies; that the mere dignity of man as a rational 
creature (70), without any other end or advantage to be attained 
thereby, in other words, respect for a mere idea, should yet serve 
as an inflexible precept of the will, and that it is precisely 
in this independence of the maxim on all such springs of 


action that its sublimity consists ; and it is this that makes 
every rational subject worthy to be a legislative member in the 
kingdom of ends : for otherwise he would have to be conceived 
only as subject to the physical law of his wants. And although 
we should suppose the kingdom of nature and the kingdom of 
ends to be united under one sovereign, so that the latter king 
dom thereby ceased to be a mere idea and acquired true reality, 
then it would no doubt gain the accession of a strong spring, 
but by no means any increase of its intrinsic worth. For this 
sole absolute lawgiver must, notwithstanding this, be always 
conceived as estimating the worth of rational beings only by 
their disinterested behaviour, as prescribed to themselves from 
that idea [the dignity of man] alone. The essence of things 
is not altered by their external relations, and that which, 
abstracting from these, alone constitutes the absolute worth of 
man, is also that by which he must be judged, whoever the 
judge may be, and even by the Supreme Being. Morality, 
then, is the relation of actions to the autonomy of the will, that 
is, to the potential universal legislation by its maxims. An 
action that is consistent with the autonomy of the will is 
permitted] one that does not agree therewith is forbidden. A w r ill 
whose maxims necessarily coincide with the laws of autonomy 
is a holy will, good absolutely. The dependence of a will not 
absolutely good on the principle of autonomy (moral necessi- 
tation) is obligation. This, then, cannot be applied to a holy 
being. The objective necessity of actions from obligation is 
called duty. 

(71) From what has just been said, it is easy to see how it 
happens that although the conception of duty implies subjection 
to the law, we yet ascribe a certain dignity and sublimity to 
the person who fulfils all his duties. T here is not, indeed, 
any sublimity in him, so far as he is subject to the moral law ; 
but inasmuch as in regard to that very law he is likewise 
a legislator, and on that account alone subject to it, he has 
sublimity. We have also shown above that neither fear nor 
inclination, but simply respect for the law, is the spring which 
can give actions a moral worth. Our own will, so far as we 


suppose it to act only under the condition that its maxims are 
potentially universal laws, this ideal will which is possible to us 
is the proper object of respect ; and the dignity of humanity 
consists just in this capacity of being universally legislative, 
though with the condition that it is itself subject to this same 

The Autonomy of the Will as the Supreme Principle of Morality. 

Autonomy of the will is that property of it by which it is a 
law to itself (independently on any property of the objects of 
volition). The principle of autonomy then is : Always so to 
choose that the same volition shall comprehend the maxims of 
our choice as a universal law. We cannot prove that this 
practical rule is an imperative, i.e., that the will of every 
rational being is necessarily bound to it as a condition, by a 
mere analysis of the conceptions which occur in it, since it is 
a synthetical proposition (72) ; we must advance beyond the 
cognition of the objects to a critical examination of the subject, 
that is of the pure practical reason, for this synthetic proposi 
tion which commands apodictically must be capable of being 
cognized wholly d priori. This matter, however, does not 
belong to the present section. But that the principle of 
autonomy in question is the sole principle of morals can be 
readily shown by mere analysis of the conceptions of morality. 
For by this analysis we find that its principle must be a 
categorical imperative, and that what this commands is neither 
more nor less than this very autonomy. 

Heteronomy of the Will as the Source of all spurious Principles of 


If the will seeks the law which is to determine it anywhere 
else than in the fitness of its maxims to be universal laws of its 
own dictation, consequently if it goes out of itself and seeks this 
law in the character of any of its objects, there always results 
heteronomy. The will in that case does not give itself the law, 
but it is given by the object through its relation to the will. 
This relation, whether it rests on inclination or on conceptions 


of reason, only admits of hypothetical imperatives : I ought to 
do something because I wish for something else. On the contrary, 
the moral, and therefore categorical, imperative says : I ought 
to do so and so, even though I should not wish for anything 
else. Ex. (jr., the former says : I ought not to lie if I would 
retain my reputation ; the latter says : I ought not to lie 
although it should not bring me the least discredit. The 
latter therefore must so far abstract from all objects that they 
shall have no influence on the will, in order that practical reason 
(will) may not be restricted to administering an interest not 
belonging to it (73), but may simply show its own commanding 
authority as the supreme legislation. Thus, ex. gr., I ought to 
endeavour to promote the happiness of others, not as if its 
realization involved any concern of mine (whether by immediate 
inclination or by any satisfaction indirectly gained through 
reason), but simply because a maxim which excludes it cannot 
be comprehended as a universal law 1 in one and the same 


Of all Principles of Morality which can be. founded on the 
Conception of Heteronomy. 

Here as elsewhere human reason in its pure use, so long as 
it was not critically examined, has first tried all possible wrong 
ways before it succeeded in finding the one true way. 

All principles which can be taken from this point of view 
are either empirical or rational. The former, drawn from the 
principle of happiness, are built on physical or moral feelings ; 
the latter, drawn from the principle of perfection, are built either 
on the rational conception of perfection as a possible effect, or 
on that of an independent perfection (the will of God) as the 
determining cause of our will. 

Empirical principles are wholly incapable of serving as a 
foundation for moral laws. For the universality with which 

[I read cdlfjemeines instead of <illriemcinem.~\ 


these should hold for all rational beings without distinction, the 
unconditional practical necessity which is thereby imposed on 
them is lost when their foundation is taken from the particular 
constitution of human nature, or the accidental (74) circumstances 
in which it is placed. The principle of private happiness, how 
ever, is the most objectionable, not merely because it is false,, 
and experience contradicts the supposition that prosperity is 
always proportioned to good conduct, nor yet merely because- 
it contributes nothing to the establishment of morality since 
it is quite a different thing to make a prosperous man and 
a good man, or to make one prudent and sharp-sighted for his 
own interests, and to make him virtuous but because the 
springs it provides for morality are such as rather undermine 
it and destroy its sublimity, since they put the motives to virtue 
and to vice in the same class, and only teach us to make a 
better calculation, the specific difference between virtue and 
vice being entirely extinguished. On the other hand, as to 
moral feeling, this supposed special sense, 1 the appeal to it is 
indeed superficial when those who cannot think believe that 
feeling will help them out, even in what concerns general laws : 
and besides, feelings which naturally differ infinitely in degree 
cannot furnish a uniform standard of good and evil, nor has 
anyone a right to form judgments for others by his own feel 
ings : nevertheless this moral feeling is nearer to morality and 
its dignity in this respect, that it pays virtue the honour of 
ascribing to her immediately the satisfaction and esteem we 
have for her, and does not, as it were, tell her to her face that 
we are not attached to her by her beauty but by profit. 

(75) Amongst the rational principles of morality, the 
outological conception of perfection, notwithstanding its defects, 
is better than the theological conception which derives morality 

1 I class the principle of moral feeling under that of happiness, because 
every empirical interest promises to contribute to our well-being by the 
agreeableness that a thing affords, whether it be immediately and without 
a view to profit, or whether profit be regarded. We must likewise, with 
Hutcheson, class the principle of sympathy with the happiness of others 
under his assumed moral sense. 


from a Divine absolutely perfect will. The former is, no doubt, 
empty and indefinite, and consequently useless for finding in. 
the boundless field of possible reality the greatest amount suit 
able for us ; moreover, in attempting to distinguish specifically 
the reality of which we are now speaking from every other, it 
inevitably tends to turn in a circle, and cannot avoid tacitly 
presupposing the morality which it is to explain ; it is neverthe 
less preferable to the theological view, first, because we have no 
intuition of the Divine perfection, and can only deduce it from 
our own conceptions, the most important of which is that of 
morality, and our explanation would thus be involved in a gross 
circle ; and, in the next place, if we avoid this, the only notion 
of the Divine \vill remaining to us is a conception made up of 
the attributes of desire of glory and dominion, combined with 
the awful conceptions of might and vengeance, and any system 
of morals erected on this foundation would be directly opposed 
to morality. 

However, if I had to choose between the notion of the moral 
sense and that of perfection in general (two systems which at 
least do not weaken morality, although they are totally incap 
able of serving as its foundation), then I should decide for the 
latter, because it at least withdraws the decision of the question 
from the sensibility and brings it to the court of pure reason; 
and although even here it decides nothing, it at all events 
preserves the indefinite idea (of a will good in itself) free from 
corruption, until it shall be more precisely defined. 

For the rest I think I may be excused here from a detailed 
refutation of all these doctrines; that would only be superfluous 
labour, since it is so easy, and is probably so well seen even by 
those whose office requires them to decide for one of those 
theories (because their hearers would not tolerate suspension of 
judgment) (?e). But what interests us more here is to know 
that the prime foundation of morality laid down by all these 
principles is nothing but heteronomy of the will, and for this 
reason they must necessarily miss their aim. 

In every case where an object of the will has to be sup 
posed, in order that the rule may be prescribed which is to 


determine the will, there the rule is simply heteronomy ; the 
imperative is conditional, namely, if or because one wishes for 
this object, one should act so and so : hence it can never 
command morally, that is categorically. "Whether the object 
determines the will by means of inclination, as in the principle 
of private happiness, or by means of reason directed to objects 
of our possible volition generally, as in the principle of perfec 
tion, in either case the will never determines itself immediately 
by the conception of the action, but only by the influence 
which the foreseen effect of the action has on the will; I ov.glit 
to do something, on this account, because I wish for something else ; 
and here there must be yet another law assumed in me as its 
subject, by which I necessarily will this other thing, and this 
law again requires an imperative to restrict this maxim. For 
the influence which the conception of an object within the reach 
of our faculties can exercise on the will of the subject in conse 
quence of its natural properties, depends on the nature of the 
subject, either the sensibility (inclination and taste), or the 
understanding and reason, the employment of which is by the 
peculiar constitution of their nature attended with satisfaction. 
It follows that the law would be, properly speaking, given by 
nature, and as such, it must be known and proved by expe 
rience, and would consequently be contingent, and therefore 
incapable of being an apodictic practical rule, such as the moral 
rule must be. Xot only so, lout it is inevitably only hetero 
nomy (77) ; the will does not give itself the law, but it is given 
by a foreign impulse by means of a particular natural constitu 
tion of the subject adapted to receive it. An absolutely good 
will, then, the principle of \vhich must be a categorical impera 
tive, will be indeterminate as regards all objects, and will 
contain merely the form of volition generally, and that as 
autonomy, that is to say, the capability of the maxims of every 
good will to make themselves a universal law, is itself the 
only law which the will of every rational being imposes on 
itself, without needing to assume any spring or interest as a 

How such a si/nthctical practical a priori proposition is possible, 


and why it is necessary, is a problem whose solution does not 
lie within the bounds of the metaphysic of morals ; and we 
have not here affirmed its truth, much less professed to have a 
proof of it in our power. We simply showed by the develop 
ment of the universally received notion of morality that an 
autonomy of the will is inevitably connected with it, or rather 
is its foundation. Whoever then holds morality to be anything 
real, and not a chimerical idea without any truth, must like 
wise admit the principle of it that is here assigned. This 
section, then, like the first, was merely analytical. Now to 
prove that morality is no creation of the brain, which it cannot 
be if the categorical imperative and with it the autonomy of 
the will is true, and as an a priori principle absolutely neces 
sary, this supposes the possibility/ of a synthetic use of pure 
practical reason, which, however, we cannot venture on without 
first giving a critical examination of this faculty of reason. In 
the concluding section we shall give the principal outlines of 
this critical examination as far as is sufficient for our purpose. 




The Concept of Freedom is the Key that explains the Autonomy 

of the Will 

THE will is a kind of causality belonging to living beings in so 
far as they are rational, and freedom would be this property of 
such causality that it can be efficient, independently on foreign 
causes determining it ; just as physical necessity is the property 
that the causality of all irrational beings has of being deter 
mined to activity by the influence of foreign causes. 

The preceding definition of freedom is negative, and there 
fore unfruitful for the discovery of its essence ; but it leads 
to a positive conception which is so much the more full and 
fruitful. Since the conception of causality involves that of 
laws, according to which, by something that we call cause, 
something else, namely, the effect, must be produced [laid 
down] j 1 hence, although freedom is not a property of the 
will depending on physical laws, yet it is not for that reason 
lawless ; on the contrary, it must be a causality acting according 
to immutable laws, but of a peculiar kind ; otherwise a free 
will would be an absurdity. Physical necessity (79) is a 
heteronomy of the efficient causes, for every effect is possible 
only according to this law, that something else determines 
the efficient cause to exert its causality. What else then 
can freedom of the will be but autonomy, that is the 

1 [Gesetst. There is in the original a play on the etymology of Gesetz, 
which does not admit of reproduction in English. It must be confessed 
that without it the statement is not self-evident.] 



property of the will to be a law to itself ? But the 
proposition : The will is in every action a law to itself, only 
expresses the principle, to act on no other maxim than that 
which can also have as an object itself as a universal law. Now 
this is precisely the formula of the categorical imperative and 
is the principle of morality, so that a free will and a will 
subject to moral laws are one and the same. 

On the hypothesis, then, of freedom of the will, morality 
together with its principle follows from it by mere analysis of 
the conception. However, the latter is a synthetic proposition ; 
viz., an absolutely good will is that whose maxim can always 
include itself regarded as a universal law ; for this property 
of its maxim can never be discovered by analysing the con 
ception of an absolutely good will. Now such synthetic 
propositions are only possible in this way : that the two 
cognitions are connected together by their union with a third 
in which they are both to be found. The positive concept of 
freedom furnishes this third cognition, which cannot, as with 
physical causes, be the nature of the sensible world (in the 
concept of which we find conjoined the concept of something" in 
relation as cause to something else as effect). We cannot now at 
once show what this third is to which freedom points us, and of 
which we have an idea priori, nor can we make intelligible 
how the concept of freedom is shown to be legitimate from 
principles of pure practical reason, and with it the possibility 
of a categorical imperative ; but some further preparation is 


Must be presupposed as a Property of the Will of all Rationed 


It is not enough to predicate freedom of our own will, from 
whatever reason, if we have not sufficient grounds for predi 
cating the same of all rational beings. For as morality serves 
as a law for us only because we are rational beings, it must also 
hold for all rational beings ; and as it must be deduced simply 
from the property of freedom, it must be shown that freedom 


also is a property of all rational beings. It is not enough, then, 
to prove it from certain supposed experiences of human nature 
(which indeed is quite impossible, and it can only be shown 
d priori), but we must show that it belongs to the activity of 
all rational beings endowed with a will. Now I say every 
being that cannot act except under the idea of freedom is just 
for that reason in a practical point of view really free, that is 
to say, all laws which are inseparably connected with freedom 
have the same force for him as if his will had been shown to 
be free in itself by a proof theoretically conclusive. 1 Now I 
affirm that we must attribute to every rational being (si) which 
has a will that it has also the idea of freedom and acts entirely 
under this idea. For in such a being we conceive a reason that 
is practical, that is, has causality in reference to its objects. 
Now we cannot possibly conceive a reason consciously receiving 
a bias from any other quarter with respect to its judgments, 
for then the subject would ascribe the determination of its 
judgment not to its own reason, but to an impulse. It must 
regard itself as the author of its principles independent on 
foreign influences. Consequently as practical reason or as the 
will of a rational being it must regard itself as free, that is to 
say, the will of such a being cannot be a will of its own except 
under the idea of freedom. This idea must therefore in a 
practical point of view be ascribed to every rational being. 

Of the Interest attaching to the Ideas of Morality. 

We have finally reduced the definite conception of morality 
to the idea of freedom. This latter, however, we could not 
prove to be actually a property of ourselves or of human nature ; 

1 1 adopt this method of assuming freedom merely as an idea which 
rational beings suppose in their actions, in order to avoid the necessity 
of proving it in its theoretical aspect also. The former is sufficient for 
my purpose ; for even though the speculative proof should not be made 
out, yet a being that cannot act except with the idea of freedom is bound 
by the same laws that would oblige a being who was actually free. Thus 
we can escape here from the onus which presses on the theory. 
[Compare Butler s treatment of the question of liberty in his Aiialogy, 
part I., ch. vi.] 



only we saw that it must be presupposed if we would conceive 
a being as rational and conscious of its causality in respect of 
its actions, i.e., as endowed with a will ; and so we find that on 
just the same grounds we must ascribe to every being endowed 
with reason and will this attribute of determining itself to 
action under the idea of its freedom. 

Now it resulted also from the presupposition of this idea 
that we became aware of a law that the subjective principles of 
action, i.e. maxims, must also be so assumed that they can 
also hold as objective (82), that is, universal principles, and so 
serve as universal laws of our own dictation. But why, then, 
should I subject myself to this principle and that simply as 
a rational being, thus also subjecting to it all other beings 
endowed with reason ? I will allow that no interest urges me 
to this, for that would not give a categorical imperative, but I 
must take an interest in it and discern how this comes to pass ; 
for this " I ought " is properly an " I would," valid for every 
rational being, provided only that reason determined his actions 
without any hindrance. But for beings that are in addition 
affected as we are by springs of a different kind, namely 
sensibility, and in whose case that is not always done which 
reason alone would do, for these that necessity is expressed 
only as an " ought," and the subjective necessity is different 
from the objective. 

It seems, then, as if the moral law, that is, the principle of 
autonomy of the will, were properly speaking only presupposed 
in the idea of freedom, and as if we could not prove its reality 
and objective necessity independently. In that case we should 
still have gained something considerable by at least determining 
the true principle more exactly than had previously been done ; 
but as regards its validity and the practical necessity of subject 
ing oneself to it, we should not have advanced a step. For 
if we were asked why the universal validity of our maxim 
as a law must be the condition restricting our actions, and on 
what we ground the worth which we assign to this manner of 
acting a worth so great that there cannot be any higher inte 
rest ; and if we were asked further how it happens that it is by 


this alone a man believes he feels his own personal worth, in 
comparison with which that of an agreeable or disagreeable 
condition is to be regarded as nothing, to these questions we 
could give no satisfactory answer. 

(83) We find indeed sometimes that we can take an interest 
in a personal quality which does not involve any interest of 
external condition, provided this quality makes us capable of 
participating in the condition in case reason were to effect the 
allotment ; that is to say, the mere being worthy of happiness 
can interest of itself even without the motive of participating in 
this happiness. This judgment, however, is in fact only the 
effect of the importance of the moral law which we before pre 
supposed (when by the idea of freedom we detach ourselves 
from every empirical interest) ; but that we ought to detach 
ourselves from these interests, i.e., to consider ourselves as free 
in action and yet as subject to certain laws, so as to find a worth 
simply in our own person which can compensate us for the loss 
of everything that gives worth to our condition ; this we are not 
yet able to discern in this way, nor do we see how it is possible so 
to act in other words, whence the moral law derives its obligation. 

It must be freely admitted that there is a sort of circle here 
from which it seems impossible to escape. In the order of 
efficient causes we assume ourselves free, in order that in the 
order of ends we may conceive ourselves as subject to moral 
laws : and we afterwards conceive ourselves as subject to these 
laws, because we have attributed to ourselves freedom of will : 
for freedom and self -legislation of will are both autonomy, and 
therefore are reciprocal conceptions, and for this very reason 
one must not be used to explain the other or give the reason of 
it, but at most only for logical purposes to reduce apparently 
different notions of the same object to one single concept (as we 
reduce different fractions of the same value to the lowest terms). 

One resource remains to us, namely, to inquire whether 
we do not occupy different points of view when by means of 

1 [" Interest " means a spring of the will, in so far as this spring is 
presented by Reason. See note, p. 80.] 


freedom (34) we think ourselves as causes efficient d priori, and 
when we form our conception of ourselves from our actions as 
effects which we see before our eyes. 

It is a remark which needs no subtle reflection to make, but 
which we may assume that even the commonest understanding 
can make, although it be after its fashion by an obscure dis 
cernment of judgment which it calls feeling, that all the 
," ideas ;>1 that come to us involuntarily (as those of the senses) 
do not enable us to know objects otherwise than as they affect 
us ; so that what they may be in themselves remains unknown 
to us, and consequently that as regards " ideas " of this kind 
even with the closest attention and clearness that the under 
standing can apply to them, we can by them only attain to the 
knowledge of appearances, never to that of things in themselves. 
As soon as this distinction has once been made (perhaps merely 
in consequence of the difference observed between the ideas 
given us from without, and in which we are passive, and those 
that we produce simply from ourselves, and in which we show 
our own activity), then it follows of itself that we must admit 
and assume behind the appearance something else that is not 
an appearance, namely, the things in themselves ; although we 
must admit that as they can never be known to us except as 
they affect us, we can come no nearer to them, nor can we ever 
know what they are in themselves. This must furnish a dis 
tinction, however crude, between a world of sense and the world 
of understanding, of which the former may be different accord 
ing to the difference of the sensuous impressions in various 
observers, while the second which is its basis always remains 
the same. Even as to himself, a man cannot pretend to know 
what he is in himself from the knowledge he has by internal 
sensation (35). For as he does not as it were create himself, 
and does not come by the conception of himself a priori but 
empirically, it naturally follows that he can obtain his know 
ledge even of himself only by the inner sense, and consequently 

1 [The common understanding being here spoken of, I use the word 
" idea " in its popular sense.] 


only through the appearances of his nature and the way in 
which his consciousness is affected. At the same time beyond 
these characteristics of his own subject, made up of mere ap 
pearances, he must necessarily suppose something else as their 
basis, namely, his ego, whatever its characteristics in itself may 
be. Thus in respect to mere perception and receptivity of 
sensations he must reckon himself as belonging to the world of 
sense ; but in respect of whatever there may be of pure activity 
in him (that which reaches consciousness immediately and not 
through affecting the senses) he must reckon himself as belong 
ing to the intellectual world, of which, however, he has no further 
knowledge. To such a conclusion the reflecting man must 
come with respect to all the things which can be presented to 
him : it is probably to be met with even in persons of the com 
monest understanding, who, as is well known, are very much 
inclined to suppose behind the objects of the senses something 
else invisible and acting of itself. They spoil it, however, by 
presently sensualizing this invisible again ; that is to say, want 
ing to make it an object of intuition, so that they do not become 
a whit the wiser. 

Now man really finds in himself a faculty by which he dis 
tinguishes himself from everything else, even from himself as 
affected by objects, and that is Reason. This being pure spon 
taneity is even elevated above the understanding. For although 
the latter is a spontaneity and does not, like sense, merely con 
tain intuitions that arise when we are affected by things (and 
are therefore passive), yet it cannot produce from its activity 
any other conceptions than those which merely serve to briny 
the intuitions of sense under rules (se), and thereby to unite them 
in one consciousness, and without this use of the sensibility it 
could not think at all ; whereas, on the contrary, Reason, shows 
so pure a spontaneity in the case of what I call Ideas [Ideal 
Conceptions] that it thereby far transcends everything that 
the sensibility can give it, and exhibits its most important 
function in distinguishing the world of sense from that of 
understanding, and thereby prescribing the limits of the under 

standing itself. 



For this reason a rational being must regard himself qtw. 
intelligence (not from the side of his lower faculties) as belonging 
not to the world of sense, but to that of understanding ; hence 
he has two points of view from which he can regard himself, and 
recognize laws of the exercise of his faculties, and consequently 
of all his actions : first, so far as he belongs to the world of 
sense, he finds himself subject to laws of nature (heteronomy) ; 
secondly, as belonging to the intelligible world, under laws 
which, being independent on nature, have their foundation not 
in experience but in reason alone. 

As a reasonable being, and consequently belonging to the 
intelligible world, man can never conceive the causality of his 
own will otherwise than on condition of the idea of freedom, for 
independence on the determining causes of the sensible world 
(an independence which Reason must always ascribe to itself) is 
freedom. Now the idea of freedom is inseparably connected 
with the conception of autonomy, and this again with the uni 
versal principle of morality which is ideally the foundation of 
all actions of rational beings, just as the law of nature is of all 

Now the suspicion is removed which we raised above, that 
there was a latent circle involved in our reasoning from freedom 
to autonomy, and from this to the moral law, viz. : that we 
laid down the idea of freedom because of the moral law only 
that we might afterwards in turn infer the latter from free 
dom (37), and that consequently we could assign no reason at 
all for this law, but could only [present] 1 it as a petitio yrincipii 
which well-disposed minds would gladly concede to us, but 
which we could never put forward as a provable proposition. 
For now we see that when we conceive ourselves as free we 
transfer ourselves into the world of understanding as members 
of it, and recognize the autonomy of the will with its conse 
quence, morality ; whereas, if we conceive ourselves as under 
obligation, we consider ourselves as belonging to the world of 
sense, and at the same time to the world of understanding. 

[The verb is wanting in the original.] 


How is a Categorical Imperative Possible ? 

Every rational being reckons himself qua intelligence as 
belonging to the world of understanding, and it is simply as 
an efficient cause belonging to that world that he calls his 
causality a will. On the other side he is also conscious of 
himself as a part of the world of sense in which his actions, 
which are mere appearances [phenomena] of that causality, are 
displayed ; we cannot, however, discern how they are possible 
from this causality which we do not know ; but instead of that, 
these actions as belonging to the sensible world must be viewed 
as determined by other phenomena, namely, desires and inclina 
tions. If therefore I were only a member of the world of 
understanding, then all my actions would perfectly conform to 
the principle of autonomy of the pure will ; if I were only a 
part of the world of sense, they would necessarily be assumed to 
conform wholly to the natural law of desires and inclinations, 
in other words, to the heteronomy of nature. (The former 
would rest on morality as the supreme principle, the latter on 
happiness.) Since, however, the world of understanding: contains 
the foundation of the world of sense, and consequently of its laws 
also, and accordingly gives the law to my will (which belongs 
wholly to the world of understanding) directly (ss), and must 
be conceived as doing so, it follows that, although on the one 
side I must regard myself as a being belonging to the world of 
sense, yet on the other side I must recognize myself as subject 
as an intelligence to the law of the world of understanding, 
i.e. to reason, which contains this law in the idea of freedom, 
and therefore as subject to the autonomy of the will : conse 
quently I must regard the laws of the world of understanding 
as imperatives for me, and the actions which conform to them 
as duties. 

And thus what makes categorical imperatives possible is this, 
that the idea of freedom makes me a member of an intelligible 
world, in consequence of which, if I were nothing else, all my 
actions would always conform to the autonomy of the will ; but 
as I at the same time intuite myself as a member of the world 


of sense, they ought so to conform, and this categorical " ought " 
implies a synthetic d priori proposition, inasmuch as besides my 
will as affected by sensible desires there is added further the 
idea of the same will, but as belonging to the world of the 
understanding, pure and practical of itself, which contains the 
supreme condition according to Eeason of the former will ; 
precisely as to the intuitions of sense there are added concepts 
of the understanding which of themselves signify nothing but 
regular form in general, and in this way synthetic a priori 
propositions become possible, on which all knowledge of 
physical nature rests. 

The practical use of common human reason confirms this 
reasoning. There is no one, not even the most consummate villain, 
provided only that he is otherwise accustomed to the use of 
reason, who, when we set before him examples of honesty of 
purpose, of steadfastness in following good maxims, of sympathy 
and general benevolence (even combined with great sacrifices of 
advantages and comfort), does not wish that he might also 
possess these qualities. Only on account of his inclinations 
and impulses he cannot attain this in himself (89), but at the 
same time he wishes to be free from such inclinations which 
are burdensome to himself. He proves by this that he transfers 
himself in thought with a will free from the impulses of the 
sensibility into an order of things wholly different from that 
of his desires in the field of the sensibility ; since he cannot 
expect to obtain by that wish any gratification of his desires, 
nor any position which would satisfy any of his actual or 
supposable inclinations (for this would destroy the pre-eminence 
of the very idea which wrests that wish from him) : he can 
only expect a greater intrinsic worth of his own person. This 
better person, however, he imagines himself to be when he 
transfers himself to the point of view of a member of the world 
of the understanding, to which he is involuntarily forced 
by the idea of freedom, i.e., of independence on determining 
causes of the world of sense ; and from this point of view he 
is conscious of a good will, which by his own confession 
constitutes the law for the bad will that he possesses as a 


member of the world of sense a law whose authority he 
recognizes while transgressing it. What he morally " ought " 
is then what he necessarily " would " as a member of the world 
of the understanding, and is conceived by him as an " ought " 
only inasmuch as he likewise considers himself as a member of 
the world of sense. 

On the Extreme Limits of all Practical Philosophy. 

All men attribute to themselves freedom of will. Hence 
come all judgments upon actions as being such as ought to have 
been done, although they have not been done. However, this 
freedom is not a conception of experience, nor can it be so, 
since it still remains (90), even though experience shows the 
contrary of what on supposition of freedom are conceived as 
its necessary consequences. On the other side it is equally 
necessary that everything that takes place should be fixedly 
determined according to laws of nature. This necessity of 
nature is likewise not an empirical conception, just for this 
reason, that it involves the motion of necessity and con 
sequently of d prio f ri cognition. But this conception of a 
system of nature is confirmed by experience ; and it must even 
be inevitably presupposed ff experience itself is to be possible, 
that is, a connected knowledge of the objects of sense resting 
on general laws. Therefore freedom is only an Idea [Ideal 
Conception] of Eeason, and its objective reality in itself is 
doubtful ; while nature is a concept of the understanding which 
proves, and must necessarily prove, its reality in examples of 

There arises from this a dialectic of Reason, since the free 
dom attributed to the will appears to contradict the necessity of 
nature, and placed between these two ways Reason for specula 
tive purposes finds the road of physical necessity much more 
beaten and more appropriate than that of freedom ; yet for 
practical purposes the narrow footpath of freedom is the only 
one on which it is possible to make use of reason in our 
conduct ; hence it is just as impossible for the subtlest 
philosophy as for the commonest reason of men to argue 


away freedom. Philosophy must then assume that no real 
contradiction will be found between freedom and physical 
necessity of the same human actions, for it cannot give up 
the conception of nature any more than that of freedom. 

Nevertheless, even though we should never be able to 
comprehend how freedom is possible, we must at least remove 
this apparent contradiction in a convincing manner. For if 
the thought of freedom contradicts either itself or nature, 
which is equally necessary (91), it must in competition with 
physical necessity be entirely given up. 

It would, however, be impossible to escape this contradiction 
if the thinking subject, which seems to itself free, conceived 
itself in the same sense or in the very same relation when it 
calls itself free as when in respect of the same action it assumes 
itself to be subject to the law of nature. Hence it is an 
indispensable problem of speculative philosophy to show that 
its illusion respecting the contradiction rests on this, that we 
think of man in a different sense and relation when we call 
him free, and when we regard him as subject to the laws of 
nature as being part and parcel of nature. It must therefore 
show that not only can both these very well co-exist, but 
that both must be thought as necessarily united in the same 
subject, since otherwise no reason could be given why we 
should burden reason with an idea which, though it may 
possibly without contradiction be reconciled with another that 
is sufficiently established, yet entangles us in a perplexity 
which sorely embarrasses Reason in its theoretic employment. 
This duty, however, belongs only to speculative philosophy, in 
order that it may clear the way for practical philosophy. The 
philosopher, then, has no option whether he will remove the 
apparent contradiction or leave it untouched ; for in the latter 
case the theory respecting this would be lonum vacuns into the 
possession of which the fatalist would have a right to enter, and 
chase all morality out of its supposed domain as occupying it 
without title. 

We cannot, however, as yet say that we are touching the 
bounds of practical philosophy. For the settlement of that 


controversy does not belong to it ; it only demands from 
speculative reason that it should put an end to the discord 
in which it entangles itself in theoretical questions, so that 
practical reason may have rest and security from external 
attacks (92) which might make the ground debatable on which 
it desires to build. 

The claims to freedom of will made even by common reason 
are founded on the consciousness and the admitted supposition 
that reason is independent on merely subjectively determined 
causes which together constitute what belongs to sensation only, 
and which consequently come under the general designation of 
sensibility. Man considering himself in this way as an intelli 
gence places himself thereby in a different order of things and 
in a relation to determining grounds of a wholly different kind 
when on the one hand he thinks of himself as an intelligence 
endowed with a will, and consequently with causality, and 
when on the other he perceives himself as a phenomenon in the 
world of sense (as he really is also), and affirms that his 
causality is subject to external determination according to laws 
of nature. 1 Now he soon becomes aware that both can hold 
good, nay, must hold good at the same time. For there is not 
the smallest contradiction in saying that a thing in appearance 
(belonging to the world of sense) is subject to certain laws, on 
which the very same as a thing or being in itself is independent ; 
and that he must conceive and think of himself in this two- fold 
way. rests as to the first on the consciousness of himself as an 
object affected through the senses, and as to the second on the 
consciousness of himself as an intelligence, i.e., as independent 
on sensible impressions in the employment of his reason (in 
other words as belonging to the world of understanding). 

Hence it comes to pass that man claims the possession of a 
will which takes no account of anything that comes under the 
head of desires and inclinations, and on the contrary conceives 

1 [The punctuation of the original gives the following sense : 
" Submits his causality, as regards its external determination, to laws 
of nature." I have ventured to make what appears to be a necessary 
correction, by simply removing a comma.] 


actions as possible to him, nay, even as necessary, which can 
only be done by disregarding all desires and sensible inclina 
tions. The causality of such actions 1 lies in him as an intelli 
gence and in the laws of effects and actions [which depend] on 
the principles (93) of an intelligible world, of which indeed he 
knows nothing more than that in it pure reason alone indepen 
dent on sensibility gives the law ; moreover since it is only in 
that world, as an intelligence, that he is his proper self (being 
as man only the appearance of himself) those laws apply to him 
directly and categorically, so that the incitements of inclina 
tions and appetites (in other words the whole nature of the 
world of sense) cannot impair the laws of his volition as an 
intelligence. Nay, he does not even hold himself responsible 
for the former or ascribe them to his proper self, i.e., his will : 
he only ascribes to his will any indulgence which he might 
yield them if he allowed them to influence his maxims to the 
prejudice of the rational laws of the will. 

When practical Reason thinks itself into a world of under 
standing, it does not thereby transcend its own limits, as it 
would if it tried to enter it by intuition or sensation. The 
former is only a negative thought in respect of the world of 
sense, which does not give any laws to reason in deter 
mining the will, and is positive only in this single point that 
this freedom as a negative characteristic is at the same time 
conjoined with a (positive) faculty and even with a causality 
of reason, which we designate a will, namely, a faculty of 
so acting that the principle of the actions shall conform to 
the essential character of a rational motive, i.e., the condition 
that the maxim have universal validity as a law. But were it 
to borrow an object of will, that is, a motive, from the world of 
understanding, then it would overstep its bounds and pretend 
to be acquainted with something of which it knows nothing. 
The conception of a world of the understanding is then only a 
point of view which Reason finds itself compelled to take outside 
the appearances in order to conceive itself as practical, which 

1 [M. Barni translates as if he read dessdben, instead of derselben, " the 
causality of this will." So also Mr. Semple.] 


would not be possible if the influences of the sensibility had a 
determining power on man (94), but which is necessary unless 
he is to be denied the consciousness of himself as an intelligence, 
and consequently as a rational cause, energizing by reason, 
that is, operating freely. This thought certainly involves 
the idea of an order and a system of laws different from 
that of the mechanism of nature which belongs to the sensible 
world ; and it makes the conception of an intelligible world 
necessary (that is to say, the whole system of rational beings 
as things in themselves). But it does not in the least authorize 
us to think of it further than as to its formal condition only, 
that is, the universality of the maxims of the will as laws, and 
consequently the autonomy of the latter, which alone is con 
sistent with its freedom ; whereas, on the contrary, all laws 
that refer to a definite object give heteronomy, which only 
belongs to laws of nature, and can only apply to the sensible 

But Eeason would overstep all its bounds if it undertook 
to explain Iww pure reason can be practical, which would be 
exactly the same problem as to explain Iww freedom is jwssible. 

For we can explain nothing but that which we can reduce 
to laws, the object of which can be given in some possible 
experience. But freedom is a mere Idea [Ideal Conception], 
the objective reality of which can in no wise be shown according 
to laws of nature, and consequently not in any possible ex 
perience ; and for this reason it can never be comprehended or 
understood, because we cannot support it by any sort of example 
or analogy. It holds good only as a necessary hypothesis of 
reason in a being that believes itself conscious of a will, that 
is, of a faculty distinct from mere desire (namely, a faculty of 
determining itself to action as an intelligence, in other words, 
by laws of reason independently on natural instincts) (95). Now 
where determination according to laws of nature ceases, there 
all explanation ceases also, and nothing remains but defence, i.e., 
the removal of the objections of those who pretend to have seen 
deeper into the nature of things, and thereupon boldly declare 
freedom impossible. "We can only point out to them that the 


supposed contradiction that they have discovered in it arises 
only from this, that in order to be able to apply the law of 
nature to human actions, they must necessarily consider man as 
an appearance : then when we demand of them that they should 
also think of -him qua intelligence as a thing in itself, they still 
persist in considering him in this respect also as an appearance. 
In this view it would no doubt be a contradiction to suppose 
the causality of the same subject (that is, his will) to be with 
drawn from all the natural laws of the sensible world. But 
this contradiction disappears, if they would only bethink them 
selves and admit, as is reasonable, that behind the appearances 
there must also lie at their root (although hidden) the things in 
themselves, and that we cannot expect the laws of these to be 
the same as those that govern their appearances. 

The subjective impossibility of explaining the freedom of 
the will is identical with the impossibility of discovering and 
explaining an interest 1 which (96; man can take in the moral 
law. Nevertheless he does actually take an interest in it, the 
basis of which in us we call the moral feeling, which some 
have falsely assigned as the standard of our moral judgment, 
whereas it must rather be viewed as the subjective effect that 
the law exercises on the will, the objective principle of which 
is furnished by Keason alone. 

In order, indeed, that a rational being who is also affected 
through the senses should will what Reason alone directs such 

1 Interest is that by which reason becomes practical, i.e., a cause 
determining the will. Hence we say of rational beings only that they 
take an interest in a thing ; irrational beings only feel sensual appetites. 
Reason takes a direct interest in action, then, only when the universal 
validity of its maxims is alone sufficient to determine the will. Such 
an interest alone is pure. But if it can determine the will only by 
means of another object of desire or on the suggestion of a particular 
feeling of the subject, then Reason takes only an indirect interest in 
the action ; and as Reason by itself without experience cannot discover 
either objects of the will or a special feeling actuating it, this latter 
interest would only be empirical, and not a pure rational interest. The 
logical interest of Reason (namely, to extend its insight) is never 
direct, but presupposes purposes for which reason is employed. 


beings that they ought to will, it is no doubt requisite that 
reason should have a power to infuse a feeling of pleasure or 
satisfaction in the fulfilment of duty, that is to say, that it 
should have a causality by which it determines the sensibility 
according to its own principles. But it is quite impossible to 
discern, i. e. to make it intelligible d priori, how a mere thought, 
which itself contains nothing sensible, can itself produce a 
sensation of pleasure or pain ; for this is a particular kind of 
causality of which as of every other causality we can determine 
nothing whatever d priori ; we must only consult experience 
about it. But as this cannot supply us with any relation of 
cause and effect except between two objects of experience, 
whereas in this case, although indeed the effect produced lies 
within experience, yet the cause is supposed to be pure reason 
acting through mere ideas which offer no object to experi 
ence, it follows that for us men it is quite impossible to 
explain how and why the universality of the maxim as a law, 
that is, morality, interests. This only is certain, that it is 
not because it interests us that it has validity for us (for that 
would be heteronomy and dependence of practical reason on 
sensibility, namely, on a feeling as its principle, in which case 
it could never give moral laws) (97), but that it interests us 
because it is valid for us as men, inasmuch as it had its source 
in our will as intelligences, in other words in our proper self, 
and what belongs to mere appearance is necessarily subordinated 
by reason to the nature of the thing in itself. 

The question then : How a categorical imperative is pos 
sible can be answered to this extent that we can assign the only 
hypothesis on which it is possible, namely, the idea of freedom ; 
and we can also discern the necessity of this hypothesis, and this 
is sufficient for the practical exercise of reason, that is, for the 
conviction of the validity of this imperative, and hence of the 
moral law ; but how this hypothesis itself is possible can never 
be discerned by any human reason. On the hypothesis, how 
ever, that the will of an intelligence is free, its autonomy, as the 
essential formal condition of its determination, is a necessary 
consequence. Moreover, this freedom of will is not merely quite 



possible as a hypothesis (not involving any contradiction to the 
principle of physical necessity in the connexion of the phe 
nomena of the sensible world) as speculative philosophy can 
show : but further, a rational being who is conscious of a 
causality 1 through reason, that is to say, of a will (distinct from 
desires), must of necessity make it practically, that is, in idea, 
the condition of all his voluntary actions. But to explain how 
pure reason can be of itself practical without the aid of any 
spring of action that could be derived from any other source, 
i.e. how the mere principle of the universal validity of all its 
maxims as laws (which would certainly be the form of a pure 
practical reason) can of itself supply a spring, without any 
matter (object) of the will in which one could antecedently take 
any interest (93) ; and how it can produce an interest which 
would be called purely moral ; or in other words, how pure 
reason can be practical to explain this is beyond the power of 
human reason, and all the labour and pains of seeking an 
explanation of it are lost. 

It is just the same as if I sought to find out how freedom 
itself is possible as the causality of a will. For then I quit the 
ground of philosophical explanation; and I have no other to go 
upon. I might indeed revel in the world of intelligences which 
still remains to me, but although I have an idea of it which is 
well founded, yet I have not the least knowledge of it, nor can I 
ever attain to such knowledge with all the efforts of my natural 
faculty of reason. It signifies only a something that remains 
over when I have eliminated everything belonging to the world 
of sense from the actuating principles of my will, serving 
merely to keep in bounds the principle of motives taken from 
the field of sensibility ; fixing its limits and showing that it 
does not contain all in all within itself, but that there is more 
beyond it; but this something more I know no further. Of 
pure reason which frames this ideal, there remains after the 
abstraction of all matter, i.e. knowledge of objects, nothing but 
the form, namely, the practical law of the universality of the 

1 [Reading " einer" for "seiner."] 


maxims, and in conformity with this the conception of reason 
in reference to a pure world of understanding as a possible 
efficient cause, that is a cause determining the will. There 
must here be a total absence of springs ; unless this idea of an 
intelligible world is itself the spring, or that in which reason 
primarily takes an interest ; but to make this intelligible is 
precisely the problem that we cannot solve. 

Here now is the extreme limit of all moral inquiry (99), and 
it is of great importance to determine it even on this account, in 
order that reason may not on the one hand, to the prejudice of 
morals, seek about in the world of sense for the supreme motive 
and an interest comprehensible but empirical ; and on the other 
hand, that it may not impotently flap its wings without being 
able to move in the (for it] empty space of transcendent con 
cepts which we call the intelligible world, and so lose itself 
amidst chimeras. For the rest, the idea of a pure world of 
understanding as a system of all intelligences, and to which we 
ourselves as rational beings belong (although we are likewise 
on the other side members of the sensible world), this remains 
always a useful and legitimate idea for the purposes of rational 
belief, although all knowledge stops at its threshold, useful, 
namely, to produce in us a lively interest in the moral law by 
means of the noble ideal of a universal kingdom of ends in 
themselves (rational beings), to which we can belong as members 
then only when we carefully conduct ourselves according to the 
maxims of freedom as if they were laws of nature. 

Concluding Remark. 

The speculative employment of reason with respect to nature 
leads to the absolute necessity of some supreme cause of the 
world : the practical employment of reason with a view to 
freedom leads also to absolute necessity, but only of the laws of 
the actions of a rational being as such. Now it is an essential 
principle of reason, however employed, to push its knowledge to 
a consciousness of its necessity (without which it would not be 
rational knowledge). It is, however, an equally essential re 
striction of the same reason that it can neither discern the 



necessity (100) of what is or what happens, nor of what ought to 
hi ppen, unless a condition is supposed on which it is or happens 
or ought to happen. In this way, however, by the constant 
inquiry for the condition, the satisfaction of reason is only 
further and further postponed. Hence it unceasingly seeks the 
unconditionally necessary, and finds itself forced to assume it, 
although without any means of making it comprehensible to 
itself, happy enough if only it can discover a conception which 
agrees with this assumption. It is therefore no fault in our 
deduction of the supreme principle of morality, but an objec 
tion that should be made to human reason in general, that it 
cannot enable us to conceive the absolute necessity of an 
unconditional practical law (such as the categorical imperative 
must be). It cannot be blamed for refusing to explain this 
necessity by a condition, that is to say, by means of some 
interest assumed as a basis, since the law would then cease to be 
a moral law, i.e. a supreme law of freedom. And thus while 
we do not comprehend the practical unconditional necessity of 
the moral imperative, we yet comprehend its incomprehensibility, 
and this is all that can be fairly demanded of a philosophy 
which strives to carry its principles up to the very limit of 
human reason. 





THIS WORK is called the "Critical Examination of 
Practical Reason," not of the pure practical reason, 
although its parallelism with the speculative critique would 
seem to require the latter term. The reason of this appears 
sufficiently from the treatise itself. Its business is to show 
that there is pure practical reason, and for this purpose it criti 
cizes the entire practical faculty of reason. If it succeeds in 
this, it has no need to criticize the pure faculty itself in order 
to see whether reason in making such a claim does not pre 
sumptuously overstep itself (as is the case with the speculative 
reason). For if, as pure reason, it is actually practical, it 
proves its own reality and that of its concepts by fact, and all 
disputation against the possibility of its being real is futile. 

With this faculty, transcendental freedom is also established ; 
freedom, namely, in that absolute sense in which speculative 
reason required it in its use of the concept of causality in order 
to escape the antinomy into which it inevitably falls, when in 
the chain of cause and effect it tries to think the unconditioned. 
Speculative reason could only exhibit this concept (of freedom) 
problematically as not impossible to thought, without assuring 
it any objective reality, and merely lest the supposed impos 
sibility of what it must at least allow to be thinkable (IOB) 


should endanger its very being and plunge it into an abyss 
of scepticism. 

Inasmuch as the reality of the concept of freedom is proved 
by an apodictic law of practical reason, it is the keystone of the 
whole system of pure reason, even the speculative, and all 
other concepts (those of God and immortality) which, as being 
mere ideas, remain in it unsupported, now attach themselves 
to this concept, and by it obtain consistence and objective 
reality ; that is to say, their possibility is proved by the fact 
that freedom actually exists, for this idea is revealed by the 
moral law. 

Freedom, however, is the only one of all the ideas of the 
speculative reason of which we know the possibility a priori 
(without, however, understanding it), because it is the con 
dition of the moral law which we know. 1 The ideas of God 
and Immortality, however, are not conditions of the moral 
law, but only conditions of the necessary object of a will 
determined by this law : that is to say, conditions of the 
practical use of our pure reason. Hence with respect to 
these ideas we cannot affirm that we know and understand, I 
will not say the actuality, but even the possibility of them. 
However, they are the conditions of the application of the 
morally (10?) determined will to its object, which is given to 

1 Lest anyone should imagine that he finds an inconsistency here when 
I call freedom the condition of the moral law, and hereafter maintain in 
the treatise itself that the moral law is the condition under which we can 
first become conscious of freedom, I will merely remark that freedom is the 
ratio essendi of the moral law, while the moral law is the ratio cognoscendi 
of freedom. For had not the moral law been previously distinctly thought 
in our reason, we should never consider ourselves justified in assumiiig 
such a thing as freedom, although it be not contradictory. But were 
there no freedom, it would be impossible to trace the moral law in ourselves 
;it all. 


it d priori, viz., the summum bonum. Consequently in this 
practical point of view their possibility must be assumed, 
although we cannot theoretically know and understand it. 
To justify this assumption it is sufficient, in a practical point 
of view, that they contain no intrinsic impossibility (contra 
diction). Here we have what, as far as speculative reason 
is concerned, is a merely subjective principle of assent, which, 
however, is objectively valid for a reason equally pure but 
practical, and this principle, by means of the concept of 
freedom, assures objective reality and authority to the ideas 
of God and Immortality. Nay, there is a subjective necessity 
(a need of pure reason) to assume them. Nevertheless the 
theoretical knowledge of reason is not hereby enlarged, but 
only the possibility is given, which heretofore was merely 
a problem, and now becomes assertion, and thus the practical 
use of reason is connected with the elements of theoretical 
reason. And this need is not a merely hypothetical one for 
the arbitrary purposes of speculation, that we must assume 
something if we wish in speculation to carry reason to its 
utmost limits, but it" is a need which has the force of law to 
assume something without which that cannot be which we must 
inevitably set before us as the aim of our action. 

It would certainly be more satisfactory to our speculative 
reason if it could solve these problems for itself without this 
circuit, and preserve the solution for practical use as a thing 
to be referred to, but in fact our faculty of speculation is 
not so well provided. Those who boast of such high know 
ledge ought not to keep it back, but to exhibit it publicly 
that it may be tested and appreciated. They want to prove : 
very good, let them prove ; and the critical philosophy lays 
its arms at their feet as the victors. " Quid statis ? Nolint. 


Atqui licet esse beatis." As they then do not in fact choose 
to do so, probably because (ios) they cannot, we must take up 
these arms again in order to seek in the mortal use of reason, 
and to base on this, the notions of God, freedom, and immor 
tality, the possibility of which speculation cannot adequately 

Here first is explained the enigma of the critical philosophy, 
viz. how we deny objective reality to the supersensible use of 
the categories in speculation, and yet admit this reality with 
respect to the objects of pure practical reason. This must 
at first seem inconsistent as long as this practical use is only 
nominally known. But when, by a thorough analysis of it, 
one becomes aware that the reality spoken of does not imply 
any theoretical determination of the categories, and extension 
of our knowledge to the supersensible ; but that what is 
meant is that in this respect an object belongs to them, be 
cause either they are contained in the necessary determination 
of the will a priori, or are inseparably connected with its 
object; then this inconsistency disappears, because the use 
we make of these concepts is different from what specula 
tive reason requires. On the other hand, there now appears 
an unexpected and very satisfactory proof of the consistency 
of the speculative critical philosophy. For whereas it insisted 
that the objects of experience as such, including our own 
subject, have only the value of phenomena, while at the same 
time things in themselves must be supposed as their basis, 
so that not everything supersensible was to be regarded as 
a fiction and its concepts as empty ; so now practical reason 
itself, without any concert with the speculative, assures reality 
to a supersensible object of the category of causality, viz. 
Freedom, although (as becomes a practical concept) (109) only 


for practical use ; and this establishes on the evidence of a 
fact that which in the former case could only be conceived. 
By this the strange but certain doctrine of the speculative 
critical philosophy, that the thinking subject is to itself in 
internal intuition only a phenomenon, obtains in the critical 
examination of the practical reason its full confirmation, and 
that so thoroughly that we should be compelled to adopt 
this doctrine, even if the former had never proved it at all. 1 
By this also I can understand why the most consider 
able objections which I have as yet met with against the 
Critique turn about these two points, namely, on the one 
side, the objective reality of the categories as applied to 
noumena, which is in the theoretical department of know 
ledge denied, in the practical affirmed; and on the other 
side, the paradoxical demand to regard oneself qua subject 
of freedom as a noumenon, and at the same time from the 
point of view of physical nature as a phenomenon in one s 
own empirical consciousness ; for as long as one has formed 
no definite notions of morality and freedom, one could not 
conjecture on the one side what was intended to be the 
noumenon, the basis of the alleged phenomenon, and on the 
other side it seemed doubtful whether it was at all possible 
to form any notion of it, seeing that we had previously 
assigned all the notions of the pure understanding in its 
theoretical use exclusively to phenomena. Nothing but a 
detailed criticism of the practical reason can remove all this 

1 The union of causality as freedom with causality as rational mechanism, 
the former established by the moral law, the latter by the law of nature in 
the same subject, namely, man, is impossible, unless we conceive him with 
reference to the former as a being in himself, and with reference to the 
latter as a phenomenon the former in pure consciousness, the latter in 
empirical consciousness. Otherwise reason inevitably contradicts itself. 


misapprehension, and set in a clear light the consistency 
which constitutes its greatest merit. 

(no) So/ much by way of justification of the proceeding 
by which, in this work, the notions and principles of pure 
speculative reason which have already undergone their special 
critical examination, are, now and then, again subjected to 
examination. This would not in other cases be in accordance 
with the systematic process by which a science is established, 
since matters which have been decided ought only to be 
cited and not again discussed. In this case, however, it was 
not only allowable but necessary, because Reason is here 
considered in transition to a different use of these concepts 
from what it had made of them before. Such a transition 
necessitates a comparison of the old and the new usage, in 
order to distinguish well the new path from the old one, and, 
at the same time, to allow their connexion to be observed. 
Accordingly considerations of this kind, including those which 
are once more directed to the concept of freedom in the 
practical use of the pure reason, must not be regarded as an 
interpolation serving only to fill up the gaps in the critical 
system of speculative reason (for this is for its own purpose 
complete), or like the props and buttresses which in a hastily 
constructed building are often added afterwards; but as true 
members which make the connexion of the system plain, and 
show us concepts, here presented as real, which there could 
only be presented problematically. This remark applies 
especially to the concept of freedom, respecting which one 
cannot but observe with surprise, that so many boast of being 
able to understand it quite well, and to explain its possibility, 
while they regard it only psychologically, whereas if they 
had studied it in a transcendental point of view, they must 


have recognized that it is not only indispensable as a prob 
lematical concept, in the complete use of speculative reason, 
but also quite incomprehensible (111) ; and if they afterwards 
came to consider its practical use, they must needs have 
come to the very mode of determining the principles of this, 
to which they are now so loth to assent. The concept of 
freedom is the stone of stumbling for all empiricists, but at 
the same time the key to the loftiest practical principles for 
critical moralists, who perceive by its means that they must 
necessarily proceed by a rational method. For this reason I 
beg the reader not to pass lightly over what is said of this 
concept at the end of the Analytic. 

I must leave it to those who are acquainted with works 
of this kind to judge whether such a system as that of the 
practical reason, which is here developed from the critical 
examination of it, has cost much or little trouble, especially 
in seeking not to miss the true point of view from which 
the whole can be rightly sketched. It presupposes, indeed, 
the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, but 
only in so far as this gives a preliminary acquaintance with 
the principle of duty, and assigns and justifies a definite 
formula thereof ; in other respects it is independent. 1 It 
results from the nature of this practical faculty itself that 

1 A reviewer who wanted to find some fault with this work has hit 
the truth better, perhaps, than he thought, when he says that no new 
principle of morality is set forth in it, but only a new formula. But 
who would think of introducing a new principle of all morality, and 
making himself as it were the first discoverer of it, just as if all the 
world before him were ignorant what duty was or had been in thorough 
going error ? But whoever knows of what importance to a mathematician 
a formula is, which defines accurately what is to be done to work a 
problem, will not think that a formula is insignificant and useless which 
does the same for all duty in general. 


the complete classification of all practical sciences cannot be 
added, as in the critique of the speculative reason (112). For 
it is not possible to define duties specially, as human duties, 
with a view to their classification, until the subject of this 
definition (viz. man) is known according to his actual nature, 
at least so far as is necessary with respect to duty ; this, 
however, does not belong to a critical examination of the 
practical reason, the business of which is only to assign in 
a complete manner the principles of its possibility, extent, 
and limits, without special reference to human nature. The 
classification then belongs to the system of science, not to 
the system of criticism. 

In the second part of the Analytic I have given, as I 
trust, a sufficient answer to the objection of a truth-loving 
and acute critic 1 of the Fundamental Principles of the Meta- 
physic of Morals a critic always worthy of respect the ob 
jection, namely, that the notion of good was not established before 
the moral principle, as he thinks it ought to have been 2 (113). 

1 [Probably Professor Garve. See Kant s " Das mag in Der Theorie 
richtig seyn, etc." Werke, vol. vii., p. 182.] 

2 It might also have been objected to me that I have not first defined 
the notion of the faculty of desire, or of the feeling of pleasure, although 
this reproach would be unfair, because this definition might reasonably 
be presupposed as given in psychology. However, the definition there 
given might be such as to found the determination of the faculty of 
desire on the feeling of pleasure (as is commonly done), and thus the 
supreme principle of practical philosophy would be necessarily made 
empirical, which, however, remains to be proved, and in this critique 
ia altogether refuted. I will, therefore, give this definition here in 
such a manner as it ought to be given, in order to leave this contested 
point open at the beginning, as it should be. LIFE is the faculty a 
being has of acting according to laws of the faculty of desire. The 
facidty of DESIRE is the being s faculty of becoming by means of its ideas 
the cause of the actual existence of the objects of these ideas. PLEASURE is the 
idea of the agreement of the object or the action ivith the subjective conditions 


I have also had regard to many of the objections which have 
reached me from men who show that they have at heart the 
discovery of the truth, and I shall continue to do so (for those 
who have only their old system before their eyes, and who 
have already settled what is to be approved or disapproved, 
do not desire any explanation which might stand in the way 
of their own private opinion). 

When we have to study a particular faculty of the human 
mind in its sources, its content, and its limits ; then from the 
nature of human knowledge we must begin with its parts, 
with an accurate and complete exposition of them ; complete, 
namely, so far as is possible in the present state of our know 
ledge of its elements. But there is another thing to be 
attended to which is of a more philosophical and architectonic 
character, namely, to grasp correctly the idea of the whole, 
and from thence to get a view of all those parts as mutually 
related by the aid of pure reason, and by means of their 
derivation from the concept of the whole (114). This is only 

of life, i.e. with the faculty of causality of an idea in respect of the 
actuality of its object (or with the determination of the forces of the subject 
to the action which produces it) (113). I have no further need for the 
purposes of this critique of notions borrowed from psychology ; the 
critique itself supplies the rest. It is easily seen that the question, 
whether the faculty of desire is always based on pleasure, or whether 
under certain conditions pleasure only follows the determination of 
desire, is by this definition left undecided, for it is composed only 
of terms belonging to the pure understanding, i.e. of categories which 
contain nothing empirical. Such precaution is very desirable in all 
philosophy, and yet is often neglected ; namely, not to prejudge 
questions by adventuring definitions before the notion has been 
completely analysed, which is often very late. It may be observed 
through the whole course of the critical philosophy (of the theoretical 
as well as the practical reason) that frequent opportunity offers of 
supplying defects in the old dogmatic method of philosophy, and of 
correcting errors which are not observed until we make such rational 
use of these notions viewing them as a whole. 


possible through the most intimate acquaintance with the 
system ; and those who find the first inquiry too troublesome, 
and do not think it worth their while to attain such an 
acquaintance, cannot reach the second stage, namely, the 
general view, which is a synthetical return to that which 
had previously been given analytically. It is no wonder 
then if they find inconsistencies everywhere, although the 
gaps which these indicate are not in the system itself, but 
in their own incoherent train of thought. 

I have no fear, as regards this treatise, of the reproach 
that I wish to introduce a new language, since the sort of 
knowledge here in question has itself somewhat of an every 
day character. Nor even in the case of the former critique 
could this reproach occur to anyone who had thought it 
through, and not merely turned over the leaves. To invent 
new words where the language has no lack of expressions 
for given notions is a childish effort to distinguish oneself 
from the crowd, if not by new and true thoughts, yet by new 
patches on the old garment. If, therefore, the readers of 
that work know any more familiar expressions which are as 
suitable to the thought as those seem to me to be, or if they 
think they can show the futility of these thoughts themselves, 
and hence that of the expression, they would, in the first 
case, very much oblige me, for I only desire to be under 
stood ; and, in the second case, they would deserve well of 
philosophy. But, as long as these thoughts stand, I very 
much doubt that suitable, and yet more common, expressions 
for them can be found. 1 

1 1 am more afraid in the present treatise of occasional misconception in 
respect of some expressions which 1 have chosen with the greatest care (115), 
in order that the notion to which they point may not be missed. Thus, in 


(115) In this manner, then, the a priori principles of two 
faculties of the mind, the faculty of cognition and (ne) that 
of desire, would be found and determined as to the conditions, 
extent, and limits of their use, and thus a sure foundation be 
laid for a scientific system of philosophy, both theoretic and 

Nothing worse could happen to these labourers than that 
anyone should make the unexpected discovery that there neither 
is nor can be any d priori knowledge at all. But there is no 
danger of this. This would be the same thing as if one 
sought to prove by reason that there is no reason. For 


we only say that we know something by reason when we 
are conscious that we could have known it even if it had 
not been given to us in experience ; hence rational know 
ledge and knowledge d priori are one and the same. It is 
a clear contradiction to try to extract necessity from a prin 
ciple of experience (ex pumice aqnam), and to try by this to 
give a judgment true universality (without which there is 
no rational inference, not even inference from analogy, which 
is at least a presumed universality and objective necessity). 
To substitute subjective necessity, that is, custom, for objec 
tive, which exists^ only in d priori judgments, is to deny to 
reason the power of judging about the object, i.e. of knowing 
it, and what belongs to it. It implies, for example, that we 
must not say of something which often or always follows a 
certain antecedent state, that we can conclude from this to 
that (for this would imply objective necessity and the notion 
of an d priori connexion), but only that we may expect 

the table of categories of the practical reason under the title of Modality, 
the permitted and forbidden (in a practical objective point of view, Possible 
and Impossible) have almost the same meaning in common language as the 



similar cases (just as animals do), that is, that we reject the 
notion of cause altogether as false and a mere delusion. < As 
to attempting to remedy this want of objective, and conse 
quent universal, validity by saying that we can see no 
ground (117) for attributing any other sort of knowledge to 
other rational beings, if this reasoning were valid, our igno 
rance would do more for the enlargement of our knowledge 
than all our meditation. For, then, on this very ground 
that we have no knowledge of any other rational beings 
besides man, we should have a right to suppose them to be 
of the same nature as we know ourselves to be : that is, we 
should really know them. I omit to mention that universal 
assent does not prove the objective validity of a judgment 
(i.e. its validity as a cognition), and although this universal 
assent should accidentally happen, it could furnish no proof 
of agreement with the object ; on the contrary, it is the 
objective validity which alone constitutes the basis of a neces 
sary universal consent. 

next category, D-uty and Contrary to Duty. Here, however, the former 
means what coincides with, or contradicts, a merely possible practical pre- 
cept(for example, the solution of all problems of geometryand mechanics) ; 
the latter, what is similarly related to a law actitally present in the reason ; 
and this distinction is not quite foreign even to common language, although 
somewhat unusual. For example, it is forbidden to an orator, as such, to 
forge new words or constructions ; in a certain degree this is permitted to a 
poet ; in neither case is there any question of duty. For if anyone chooses 
to forfeit his reputation as an orator, no one can prevent him. We have 
here only to do with the distinction of imperatives into problematical , asser- 
torial, and apodictic. Similarly in the note in which I have compared the 
moral ideas of practical perfection in different philosophical schools, I have 
distinguished the idea of wisdom from that of holiness, although I have 
stated that essentially and objectively they are the same. But in that 
place I understand by the former only that wisdom to which man (the Stoic) 
lays claim ; therefore I take it subjectively as an attribute alleged to belong 


Hume would be quite satisfied with this system of uni 
versal empiricism, for, as is well known, he desired nothing 
more than that instead of ascribing any objective meaning 
to the necessity in the concept of cause, a merely subjective 
one should be assumed, viz. custom, in order to deny that 
reason could judge about God, freedom, and immortality ; 
and if once his principles were granted, he was certainly well 
able to deduce his conclusions therefrom, with all logical 
coherence. But even Hume did not make his empiricism so 
universal as to include mathematics. He holds the princi 
ples of mathematics to be analytical ; and if his were correct, 
they would certainly be apodictic also : but w r e could not infer 
from this that reason has the faculty of forming apodictic 
judgments in philosophy also that is to say, those which are 
synthetical judgments, like the judgment of causality. But 
if we adopt a universal empiricism, then mathematics will be 

Now if this science is in contradiction with a reason that 

to man. (Perhaps the expression virtiie, with which also the Stoic made 
great show, would better mark the characteristic of his school.) The ex 
pression of a postidate of pure practical reason might give most occasion to 
misapprehension in case the reader confounded it with the signification of 
the postulates in pure mathematics, which carry apodictic certainty with 
them. These, however, postulate the possibility of an action, the object of 
which has been previously recognized a priori in theory as possible, and 
that with perfect certainty. But the former postulates the possibility of an 
object itself (God and the immortality of the soul) from apodictic practical 
laws, and therefore only for the purposes of a practical reason. This cer 
tainty of the postulated possibility then is not at all theoretic, and conse 
quently not apodictic, that is to say, it is not a known necessity as regards 
the object, but a necessary supposition as regards the subject, necessary for 
the obedience to its objective but practical laws. It is, therefore, merely a 
necessary hypothesis. I could find no better expression for this rational 
necessity, which is subjective, but yet true and unconditional. 

H 2 


admits only empirical principles (us), as it inevitably is in 
the antinomy in which mathematics prove the infinite divisi 
bility of space, which empiricism cannot admit ; then the 
greatest possible evidence of demonstration is in manifest 
contradiction with the alleged conclusions from experience, 
and we are driven to ask, like Cheselden s blind patient, 
" Which deceives me, sight or touch ? " (for empiricism is 
based on a necessity felt, rationalism on a necessity seen). 
And thus universal empiricism reveals itself as absolutely scep 
ticism. It is erroneous to attribute this in such an un 
qualified sense to Hume, 1 since he left at least one certain 
touchstone of experience, namely, mathematics ; whereas 
thorough scepticism admits no such touchstone (which can 
only be found in a priori principles), although experience 
consists not only of feelings, but also of judgments. 

However, as in this philosophical and critical age such 
empiricism can scarcely be serious, and it is probably put 
forward only as an intellectual exercise, and for the purpose 
of putting in a clearer light, by contrast, the necessity of 
rational a priori principles, we can only be grateful to those 
who employ themselves in this otherwise uninstructive labour. 

1 Names that designate the followers of a sect have always been accom 
panied with much injustice ; just as if one said, N is an Idealist. For 
although he not only admits, but even insists, that our ideas of external 
things have actual objects of external things corresponding to them, yet 
he holds that the form of the intuition does not depend on them but on 
the human mind. [N is clearly Kant himself.] 




theoretical use of reason was concerned with objects of 
_|_ the cognitive faculty only, and a critical examination of 
it with reference to this use applied properly only to the pure 
faculty of cognition ; because this raised the suspicion, which 
was afterwards confirmed, that it might easily pass beyond its 
limits, and be lost among unattainable objects, or even contra 
dictory notions. It is quite different with the practical use of 
reason. In this, reason is concerned with the grounds of deter 
mination of the will, which is a faculty either to produce objects 
corresponding to ideas, or to determine ourselves to the effecting 
of such objects (whether the physical power is sufficient or not) ; 
that is, to determine our causality. For here, reason can at 
least attain so far as to determine the will, and has always 
objective reality in so far as it is the volition only that is in 
question. The first question here, then, is. whether pure reason 
of itself alone suffices to determine the will, or whether it can 
be a ground of determination only as dependent on empirical 
conditions (120). Now, here there comes in a notion of caus 
ality justified by the critique of the pure reason, although not 
capable of being presented empirically, viz. that of freedom ; 
and if we can now discover means of proving that this property 
does in fact belong to the human will (and so to the will of all 
rational beings), then it will not only be shown that pure reason 
can be practical, but that it alone, and not reason empirically 
limited, is indubitably practical ; consequently, we shall have 
to make a critical examination, not of pure practical reason, but 

102 INTRODUCTION. [l2l] 

only of practical reason generally. For when once pure reason 
is shown to exist, it needs no critical examination. For reason 
itself contains the standard for the critical examination of every 
use of it. The critique, then, of practical reason generally is 
bound to prevent the empirically conditioned reason from claim 
ing exclusively to furnish the ground of determination of the 
will. If it is proved that there is a [practical] 1 reason, its em 
ployment is alone immanent ; the empirically conditioned use, 
which claims supremacy, is on the contrary transcendent, and 
expresses itself in demands and precepts which go quite beyond 
its sphere. This is just the opposite of what might be said of 
pure reason in its speculative employment. 

However, as it is still pure reason, the knowledge of which 
is here the foundation of its practical employment, the general 
outline of the classification of a critique of practical reason must 
be arranged in accordance with that of the speculative. We 
must, then, have the Element* and the Methodology of it; and in 
the former an Analytic as the rule of truth, and a Dialectic as 
the exposition and dissolution of the illusion in the judgments 
of practical reason (121). But the order in the subdivision of 
the Analytic will be the reverse of that in the critique of the 
pure speculative reason. For, in the present case, we shall com 
mence with the principles and proceed to the concepts, and only 
then, if possible, to the senses ; whereas in the case of the specu 
lative reason we began with the senses, and had to end with the 
principles. The reason of this lies again in this : that now we 
have to do with a will, and have to consider reason, not in its 
relation to objects, but to this will and its causality. We must, 
then, begin with the principles of a causality not empirically 
conditioned, after which the attempt can be made to establish 
our notions of the determining grounds of such a will, of their 
application to objects, and finally to the subject and its sense 
faculty. We necessarily begin with the law of causality from 
freedom, that is, with a pure practical principle, and this deter 
mines the objects to which alone it can be applied. 

1 [The original has " pure," an obvious error.] 









PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES are propositions which contain 
a general determination of the will, having under it several 
practical rules. They are subjective, or Maxims, when the 
condition is regarded by the subject as valid only for his 
own will, but are objective, or practical laws, when the con 
dition is recognized as objective, that is, valid for the will 
of every rational being. 


Supposing that pure reason contains in itself a practical 
motive (126), that is, one adequate to determine the will, then 
there are practical laws ; otherwise all practical principles 
will be mere maxims. In case the will of a rational being 
is pathologically affected, there may occur a conflict of the 
maxims with the practical laws recognized by itself. For 
example, one may make it his maxim to let no injury pass 
unrevenged, and yet he may see that this is not a practical 
law, but only his own maxim ; that, on the contrary, regarded 
as being in one and the same maxim a rule for the will of 
every rational being, it must contradict itself. In natural 
philosophy the principles of what happens (e.g. the principle 

106 THE ANALYTIC OF [l2?] 

of equality of action and reaction in the communication of 
motion) are at the same time laws of nature ; for the use 
of reason ihere is theoretical, and determined by the nature 
of the object. In practical philosophy, i.e. that which has to 
do only with the grounds of determination of the will, the 
principles which a man makes for himself are not laws by 
which one is inevitably bound ; because reason in practical 
matters has to do with the subject, namely, with the faculty 
of desire, the special character of which may occasion variety 
in the rule. The practical rule is always a product of reason, 
because it prescribes action as a means to the effect. But in 
the case of a being with whom reason does not of itself 
determine the will, this rule is an imperative, i.e. a rule 
characterized by " shall," which, expresses the objective necessi- 
tation of the action, and signifies that if reason completely 
determined the will, the action would inevitably take place 
according to this rule. Imperatives, therefore, are objectively 
valid, and are quite distinct from maxims, which are subjective 
principles. The former either determine the conditions of 
the causality of the rational being as an efficient cause, i.e. 
merely in reference to the effect and the means of attaining 
it ; or they determine the will only, whether it is adequate 
to the effect or not (127). The former would be hypothetical 
imperatives, and contain mere precepts of skill ; the latter, 
on the contrary, would be categorical, and would alone be 
practical laws. Thus maxims are principles, but not impera 
tives. Imperatives themselves, however, when they are con 
ditional (i.e. do not determine the will simply as will, but only 
in respect to a desired effect, that is, when they are hypothetical 
imperatives), are practical precepts, but not laws. Laws must 
be sufficient to determine the will as will, even before I ask 
whether I have power sufficient for a desired effect, or the 
means necessary to produce it ; hence they are categorical : 
otherwise they are not laws at all, because the necessity is 
wanting, which, if it is to be practical, must be independent 
<>n conditions which are pathological, and are therefore only 
contingently connected with the will. Tell a man, for example ; 


that he must be industrious and thrifty in youth, in order 
that he may not want in old age ; this is a correct and 
important practical precept of the will. But it is easy to 
see that in this case the will is directed to something else 
which it is presupposed that it desires, and as to this 
desire, we must leave it to the actor himself whether he 
looks forward to other resources than those of his own acqui 
sition, or does not expect to be old, or thinks that in case 
of future necessity he will be able to make shift with little. 
Eeason, from which alone can spring a rule involving necessity, 
does, indeed, give necessity to this precept (else it would 
not be an imperative), but this is a necessity dependent on 
subjective conditions, and cannot be supposed in the same 
degree in all subjects. But that reason may give laws it is 
necessary that it should only need to presuppose itself, because 
rules are objectively and universally valid only when they 
hold without any contingent subjective conditions, which dis 
tinguish one rational being from another. Now tell a man 
that he should never make a deceitful promise, this is a rule 
which only concerns his will, whether the purposes he may 
have can be attained thereby or not (123) ; it is the volition 
only which is to be determined a priori by that rule. If now 
it is found that this rule is practically right, then it is a law, 
because it is a categorical imperative. Thus, practical laws 
refer to the will only, without considering what is attained 
by its causality, and we may disregard this latter (as belong 
ing to the world of sense) in order to have them quite pure. 


All practical principles which presuppose an object (matter) 
of the faculty of desire as the ground of determination of the 
will are empirical, and can furnish no practical laws. 

By the matter of the faculty of desire I mean an object 
the realization of which is desired. Now, if the desire for this 
object precedes the practical rule, and is the condition of our 
making it a principle, then I say (in the first place) this principle 

108 THE ANALYTIC OF [l2<>] 

is in that case wholly empirical, for then what determines the 
choice is the idea of an object, and that relation of this idea to 
the subject by which its faculty of desire is determined to its 
realization. Such a relation to the subject is called the pleasure 
in the realization of an object. This, then, must be presupposed 
as a condition of the possibility of determination of the will. 
But it is impossible to know d priori of any idea of an object 
whether it will be connected with pleasure or pain, or be indif 
ferent. In such cases, therefore, the determining principle of 
the choice must be empirical, and, therefore, also the practical 
material principle which presupposes it as a condition. 

(129) In the second place, since susceptibility to a pleasure or 
pain can be known only empirically, and cannot hold in the 
same degree for all rational beings, a principle which is based 
on this subjective condition may serve indeed as a maxim for the 
subject which possesses this susceptibility, but not as a law 
even to him (because it is wanting in objective necessity, which 
must be recognized d priori) ; it follows, therefore, that such a 
principle can never furnish a practical law. 


All material practical principles as such are of one and the 
same kind, and come under the general principle of self-love or 
private happiness. 

Pleasure arising from the idea of the existence of a thing, 
in so far as it is to determine the desire of this thing, is founded 
on the susceptibility of the subject, since it depends on the pre 
sence of an object; hence it belongs to sense (feeling), and not 
to understanding, which expresses a relation of the idea to an 
object according to concepts, not to the subject according to 
feelings. It is, then, practical only in so far as the faculty of 
desire is determined by the sensation of agreeableness which 
the subject expects from the actual existence of the object. 
Now, a rational being s consciousness of the pleasantness of 
life uninterruptedly accompanying his whole existence is hap 
piness ; and the principle which makes this the supreme ground 


of determination of the will is the principle of self-love. All 
material principles, then, which place the determining ground 
of the will in the pleasure or pain to be received from the 
existence of any object are all of the same kind(i3o), inas 
much as they all belong to the principle of self-love or private 


All material practical rules place the determining principle 
of the will in the lower desires, and if there were no purely formal 
laws of the will adequate to determine it, then we could not 
admit any higher desire at all. 


It is surprising that men, otherwise acute, can think it pos 
sible to distinguish between higher and lower desires, according 
as the ideas which are connected with the feeling of pleasure 
have their origin in the senses or in the understanding , for 
when we inquire what are the determining grounds of desire, 
and place them in some expected pleasantness, it is of no con 
sequence whence the idea of this pleasing object is derived, but 
only how much it 2^cases. Whether an idea has its seat and 
source in the understanding or not, if it can only determine 
the choice by presupposing a feeling of pleasure in the subject, 
it follows that its capability of determining the choice depends 
altogether on the nature of the inner sense, namely, that this 
can be agreeably affected by it. However dissimilar ideas of 
objects may be, though they be ideas of the understanding, or 
even of the reason in contrast to ideas of sense, yet the feeling 
of pleasure, by means of which they constitute the determining 
principle of the will (the expected satisfaction which impels the 
activity to the production of the object) (i3i), is of one and the 
same kind, not only inasmuch as it can only be known empiri 
cally, but also inasmuch as it affects one and the same vital 
force which manifests itself in the faculty of desire, and in this 
respect can only differ in degree from every other ground of 
determination. Otherwise, how could we compare in respect of 

110 THE ANALYTIC OF [132] 

magnitude two principles of determination, the ideas of which 
depend upon different faculties, so as to prefer that which affects 
the faculty of desire in the highest degree. The same man may 
return unread an instructive book which he cannot again obtain, 
in order not to miss a hunt ; he may depart in the midst of a 
fine speech, in order not to be late for dinner ; he may leave a 
rational conversation, such as he otherwise values highly, to 
take his place at the gaming-table; he may even repulse a 
poor man whom he at other times takes pleasure in benefiting, 
because he has only just enough money in his pocket to pay for 
his admission to the theatre. If the determination of his will 
rests on the feeling of the agreeableness or disagreeableness that 
he expects from any cause, it is all the same to him by what 
sort of ideas he will be affected. The only thing that concerns 
him, in order to decide his choice, is. how great, how long con 
tinued, how easily obtained, and how often repeated, this agree 
ableness is. Just as to the man who wants money to spend, it 
is all the same whether the gold was dug out of the mountain 
or washed out of the sand, provided it is everywhere accepted 
at the same value ; so the man who cares only for the enjoy 
ment of life does not ask whether the ideas are of the under 
standing or the senses, but only how much and how great pleasure 
they will give for the longest time. It is only those that would 
gladly deny to pure reason the power of determining the will, 
without the presupposition of any feeling, who could deviate so 
far from their own exposition as to describe as quite hetero 
geneous what they have themselves previously brought under 
one and the same principle (132). Thus, for example, it is ob 
served that we can find pleasure in the mere exercise of power, 
in the consciousness of our strength of mind in overcoming 
obstacles which are opposed to our designs, in the culture of 
our mental talents, etc. ; and we justly call these more refined 
pleasures and enjoyments, because they are more in our power 
than others ; they do not wear out, but rather increase the 
capacity for further enjoyment of them, and while they delight 
they at the same time cultivate. But to say on this account 
that they determine the will in a different way, and not through 


sense, whereas the possibility of the pleasure presupposes a feel 
ing for it implanted in us, which is the first condition of this 
satisfaction ; this is just as when ignorant persons that like to 
dabble in metaphysics imagine matter so subtle, so super-subtle, 
that they almost make themselves giddy with it, and then think 
that in this way they have conceived it as a spiritual and yet 
extended being. If with Epicurus we make virtue determine 
the will only by means of the pleasure it promises, we cannot 
afterwards blame him for holding that this pleasure is of the 
same kind as those of the coarsest senses. For we have no 
reason whatever to charge him with holding that the ideas by 
which this feeling is excited in us belong merely to the bodily 
senses. As far as can be conjectured, he sought the source of 
many of them in the use of the higher cognitive faculty ; but 
this did not prevent him, and could not prevent him, from 
holding on the principle above stated, that the pleasure itself 
which those intellectual ideas give us, and by which alone 
they can determine the will, is just of the same kind. Con 
sistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher, and yet the 
most rarely found. The ancient Greek schools give us more 
examples of it than we find in our syncrctistic age, in which 
a certain shallow and dishonest system of compromise of con 
tradictory principles is devised, because it commends itself 
better to a public (133) which is content to know something of 
everything and nothing thoroughly, so as to please every party. 1 
The principle of private happiness, however much under 
standing and reason may be used in it, cannot contain any 
other determining principles for the will than those which 
belong to the lower desires ; and either there are no [higher]- 
desires at all, or pure reason must of itself alone be practical : 
that is, it must be able to determine the will by the mere form 
of the practical rule without supposing any feeling, and conse 
quently without any idea of the pleasant or unpleasant, which 

[^Literally, "to have a firm seat in any saddle." It maybe noted 
that Kant s father was a saddler.] 
[ 2 Not in the original text.] 

112 THE ANALYTIC OF [l34] 

is the matter of the desire, and which is always an empirical 
condition of the principles. Then only, when reason of itself 
determines the will (not as the servant of the inclination), it is 
really a higher desire to which that which is pathologically 
determined is subordinate, and is really, and even specifically, 
distinct from the latter, so that even the slightest admixture of 
the motives of the latter impairs its strength and superiority ; 
just as in a mathematical demonstration the least empirical con 
dition would degrade and destroy its force and value. Reason, 
with its practical law, determines the will immediately, not by 
means of an intervening feeling of pleasure or pain, not even of 
pleasure in the law itself, and it is only because it can, as pure 
reason, be practical, that it is possible for it to be legislative. 


To be happy is necessarily the wish of every finite rational 
being, and this, therefore, is inevitably a determining principle 
of its faculty of desire. For we are not in possession originally 
of satisfaction with our whole existence a bliss which would 
imply a consciousness of our own independent self-sufficiency 
this is a problem imposed upon us by our own finite nature, 
because we have wants, and these wants regard (134) the matter 
of our desires, that is, something that is relative to a subjective 
feeling of pleasure or pain, which determines what we need in 
order to be satisfied with our condition. But just because this 
material principle of determination can only be empirically 
known by the subject, it is impossible to regard this problem 
as a law ; for a law being objective must contain the very same 
principle of determination of the will in all cases and for all 
rational beings. For, although the notion of happiness is in 
every case the foundation of the practical relation of the objects 
to the desires, yet it is only a general name for the subjective 
determining principles, and determines nothing specifically ; 
whereas this is what alone we are concerned with in this prac 
tical problem, which cannot be solved at all without such specific 
determination. For it is every man s own special feeling of 


pleasure and pain that decides in what he is to place his 
happiness, and even in the same subject this will vary with 
the difference of his wants according as this feeling changes, 
and thus a law which is subjectively necessary (as a law of 
nature) is objectively a very contingent practical principle, which 
can and must be very different in different subjects, and there 
fore can never furnish a law ; since, in the desire for happiness 
it is not the form (of conformity to law) that is decisive, but 
simply the matter, namely, whether I am to expect pleasure in 
following the law, and how much. Principles of self-love may, 
indeed, contain universal precepts of skill (how to find means 
to accomplish one s purposes), but in that case they are merely 
theoretical principles ;* as, for example, how he who would like 
to eat bread (135) should contrive a mill ; but practical precepts 
founded on them can never be universal, for the determining 
principle of the desire is based on the feeling of pleasure and 
pain, which can never be supposed to be universally directed to 
the same objects. 

Even supposing, however, that all finite rational beings were 
thoroughly agreed as to what were the objects of their feelings 
of pleasure and pain, and also as to the means which they 
must employ to attain the one and avoid the other ; still, they 
could by no means set up the principle of self -love as a practical 
law, for this unanimity itself would be only contingent. The 
principle of determination would still be only subjectively valid 
and merely empirical, and would not possess the necessity 
which is conceived in every law, namely, an objective necessity 
arising from a priori grounds ; unless, indeed, we hold this 
necessity to be not at all practical, but merely physical, viz. 
that our action is as inevitably determined by our inclination, 
as yawning when we see others yawn. It would be better 

1 Propositions which in mathematics or physics are called practical 
ought properly to be called technical. For they have nothing to do with 
the determination of the will ; they only point out how a certain effect is 
to be produced, and are therefore just as theoretical as any propositions 
which express the connexion of a cause with an effect. Now whoever 
chooses the effect must also choose the cause. 



to maintain that there are no practical laws at all, but only 
counsels for the service of our desires, than to raise merely 
subjective principles to the rank of practical laws, which have 
objective necessity, and not merely subjective, and which must 
be known by reason d priori, not by experience (however 
empirically universal this may be). Even the rules of corre 
sponding phenomena are only called laws of nature (e.g. the 
mechanical laws), when we either know them really d priori, 
or (as in the case of chemical laws) suppose that they would 
be known a priori from objective grounds if our insight reached 
further. But in the case of merely subjective practical prin 
ciples, it is expressly made a condition (ise) that they rest 
not on objective but on subjective conditions of choice, and 
hence that they must always be represented as mere maxims ; 
never as practical laws. This second remark seems at first sight 
to be mere verbal refinement, but it defines 1 the terms of the 
most important distinction which can come into consideration in 
practical investigations. 


A rational being cannot regard his maxims as practical 
universal laws, unless he conceives them as principles which 
determine the will, not by their matter, but by their form 

By the matter of a practical principle I mean the object of 
the will. This object is either the determining ground of the 
will or it is not. In the former case the rule of the will is sub 
jected to an empirical condition (viz. the relation of the deter 
mining idea to the feeling of pleasure and pain) ; consequently 
it cannot be a practical law. Now, when we abstract from a 
law all matter, i.e. every object of the will (as a determining 
principle), nothing is left but the mere form of a universal 
legislation. Therefore, either a rational being cannot conceive 
his subjective practical principles, that is, his maxims, as being 

[The original sentence is defective ; Hartenstein supplies " enthalt."] 


at the same time universal laws, or he must suppose that their 
mere form, by which they are fitted for universal legislation, is 
alone what makes them practical laws. 

(l37) REMARK. 

The commonest understanding can distinguish without in 
struction what form of maxim is adapted for universal legisla 
tion, and what is not. Suppose, for example, that I have made 
it my maxim to increase my fortune by every safe means. Now, 
I have a deposit in my hands, the owner of which is dead and 
has left no writing about it. This is just the case for my 
maxim. I desire, then, to know whether that maxim can also 
hold good as a universal practical law. I apply it, therefore, 
to the present case, and ask whether it could take the form of a 
law, and consequently whether I can by my maxim at the same 
time give such a law as this, that everyone may deny a deposit 
of which no one can produce a proof. I at once become aware 
that such a principle, viewed as a law, would annihilate itself, 
because the result would be that there would be no deposits. A 
practical law which I recognize as such must be qualified for 
universal legislation ; this is an identical proposition, and there 
fore self-evident. Now, if I say that my will is subject to 
a practical law, I cannot adduce my inclination (e.g. in the 
present case my avarice) as a principle of determination fitted 
to be a universal practical law ; for this is so far from being 
fitted for a universal legislation that, if put in the form of a 
universal law, it would destroy itself. 

It is, therefore, surprising that intelligent men could have 
thought of calling the desire of happiness a universal practical 
law on the ground that the desire is universal, and, therefore, 
also the maxim by which everyone makes this desire determine 
his will. For whereas in other cases a universal law of nature 
makes everything harmonious ; here, on the contrary, if we 
attribute to the maxim the universality of a law, the extreme 
opposite of harmony will follow, the greatest opposition, and 
the complete (iss) destruction of the maxim itself, and its 


116 THE ANALYTIC OF [139] 

purpose. For, in that case, the will of all has not one and the 
same object, but everyone has his own (his private welfare), 
which may accidentally accord with the purposes of others 
which are equally selfish, but it is far from sufficing for a law ; 
because the occasional exceptions which one is permitted to 
make are endless, and cannot be definitely embraced in one 
universal rule. In this manner, then, results a harmony like 
that which a certain satirical poem depicts as existing between 
a married couple bent on going to ruin, " O. marvellous har 
mony, what he wishes, she wishes also " ; or like what is said 
of the pledge of Francis I to the Emperor Charles V, " What 
my brother Charles wishes that I wish also " (viz. Milan). 
Empirical principles of determination are not fit for any uni 
versal external legislation, but just as little for internal ; for 
each man makes his own subject the foundation of his inclina 
tion, and in the same subject sometimes one inclination, some 
times another, has the preponderance. To discover a law which 
would govern them all under this condition, namely, bringing 
rhem all into harmony, is quite impossible. 


Supposing that the mere legislative form of maxims is alone 
the sufficient determining principle of a will, to find the nature 
of the will which can be determined by it alone. 

Since the bare form of the law can only be conceived by 
reason, and is, therefore, not an object of the senses, and conse 
quently does not belong to the class of phenomena, it follows 
that the idea of it (139), which determines the will, is distinct 
from all the principles that determine events in nature accord 
ing to the law of causality, because in their case the determining 
principles must themselves be phenomena. Now, if no other 
determining principle can serve as a law for the will except 
that universal legislative form, such a will must be conceived 
as quite independent on the natural law of phenomena in their 
mutual felation, namely, the law of causality ; such indepen 
dence is called freedom in the strictest, that is in the transcen- 


dental sense ; consequently, a will which can have its law in 
nothing but the mere legislative form of the maxim is a free 


Supposing that a will is free, to find the law which alone 
is competent to determine it necessarily. 

Since the matter of the practical law, i.e. an object of the 
maxim, can never be given otherwise than empirically, and 
the free will is independent on empirical conditions (that is, 
conditions belonging to the world of sense), and yet is deter- 
minable, consequently a free will must find its principle of 
determination in the law, and yet independently of the matter 
of the law. But, beside the matter of the law, nothing is 
contained in it except the legislative form. It is the legislative 
form, then, contained in the maxim, which can alone constitute 
a principle of determination of the [free] will. 

(140) REMARKS. 

Thus freedom and an unconditional practical law recip 
rocally imply each other. Now I do not ask here whether 
they are in fact distinct, or whether an unconditional law ie. 
not rather merely the consciousness of a pure practical reason, 
and the latter identical with the positive concept of freedom ; 
I only ask, whence begins our knowledge of the unconditionally 
practical, whether it is from freedom or from the practical law ? 
Now it cannot begin from freedom, for of this we cannot be 
immediately conscious, since the first concept of it is negative ; 
nor can we infer it from experience, for experience gives us 
the knowledge only of the law of phenomena, and hence of 
the mechanism of nature, the direct opposite of freedom. It is 
therefore the moral law, of which we become directly conscious 
(as soon as we trace for ourselves maxims of the will), that 
first presents itself to us, and leads directly to the concept 
of freedom, inasmuch as reason presents it as a principle of 

118 THE ANALYTIC OF [l4l] 

determination not to be outweighed by any sensible conditions, 
nay, wholly independent of them. But how is the consciousness 
of that moral law possible ? We can become conscious of pure 
practical laws just as we are conscious of pure theoretical 
principles, by attending to the necessity with which reason 
prescribes them, and to the elimination of all empirical con 
ditions, which it directs. The concept of a pure will arises out 
of the former, as that of a pure understanding arises out of 
the latter. That this is the true subordination of our concepts, 
and that it is morality that first discovers to us the notion of 
freedom, hence that it is practical reason which, with this 
concept, first proposes to speculative reason the most insoluble 
problem, thereby placing it in the greatest perplexity, is evident 
from the following consideration : Since nothing in phenomena 
can be explained by the concept of freedom, but the mechanism 
of nature must constitute the only clue (141) ; moreover, when 
pure reason tries to ascend in the series of causes to the 
unconditioned, it falls into an antinomy which is entangled in 
incomprehensibilities on the one side as much as the other ; 
whilst the latter (namely, mechanism) is at least useful in the 
explanation of phenomena, therefore no one would ever have 
been so rash as to introduce freedom into science, had not the 
moral law, and with it practical reason, come in and forced 
this notion upon us. Experience, however, confirms this order 
of notions. Suppose some one asserts of his lustful appetite 
that, when the desired object and the opportunity are present, 
it is quite irresistible. [Ask him] if a gallows were erected 
before the house where he finds this opportunity, in order that 
he should be hanged thereon immediately after the gratification 
of his lust, whether he could not then control his passion ; 
we need not be long in doubt what he would reply. Ask him, 
however if his sovereign ordered him, on pain of the same 
immediate execution, to bear false witness against an honourable 
man, whom the prince might wish to destroy under a plausible 
pretext, would he consider it possible in that case to overcome 
his love of life, however great it may be. He would perhaps 
not venture to afh rm whether he would do so or not, but he 


must unhesitatingly admit that it is possible to do so. He 
judges, therefore, that he can do a certain thing because he is 
conscious that he ought, and he recognizes that he is free a fact 
which but for the moral law he would never have known. 


Act so that the maxim of thy will can always at the same 
time hold good as a principle of universal legislation. 

(142) REMARK. 

Pure geometry has postulates which are practical propo 
sitions, but contain nothing further than the assumption that 
we can do something if it is required that we should do it, and 
these are the only geometrical propositions that concern actual 
existence. They are, then, practical rules under a problematical 
condition of the will ; but here the rule says : We absolutely 
must proceed in a certain manner. The practical rule is, 
therefore, unconditional, and hence it is conceived a priori as 
a categorically practical proposition by which the will is 
objectively determined absolutely and immediately (by the 
practical rule itself, which thus is in this case a law) ; for pure 
reason practical of itself is here directly legislative. The will is 
thought as independent on empirical conditions, and, therefore, 
as pure will determined by the mere form of the law, and this 
principle of determination is regarded as the supreme condition 
of all maxims. The thing is strange enough, and has no 
parallel in all the rest of our practical knowledge. For the 
a priori thought of a possible universal legislation which is 
therefore merely problematical, is unconditionally commanded 
as a law without borrowing anything from experience or from 
any external will. This, however, is not a precept to do some 
thing by which some desired effect can be attained (for then 
the will would depend on physical conditions), but a rule that 
determines the will a priori only so far as regards the forms 
of its maxims ; and thus it is at least not impossible to 

120 THE ANALYTIC OF [l43] 

conceive that a law, which only applies to the subjective form of 
principles, yet serves as a principle of determination by means 
of the objective form of law in general. We may call the con 
sciousness of this fundamental, law a fact of reason, because we 
cannot reason it out from antecedent data of reason, e.g. the 
consciousness of freedom (for this is not antecedently given), 
but it forces itself on us as a synthetic a priori proposition (143), 
which is not based on any intuition, either pure or empirical. 
It would, indeed, be analytical if the freedom of the will were 
presupposed, but to presuppose freedom as a positive concept 
would require an intellectual intuition, which cannot here be 
assumed ; however, when we regard this law as given, it must 
be observed, in order not to fall into any misconception, that it 
is not an empirical fact, but the sole fact of the pure reason, 
which thereby announces itself as originally legislative (sic volo 
sic juleo). 


Pure reason is practical of itself alone, and gives (to man) 
a universal law which we call the Moral Law. 


The fact just mentioned is undeniable. It is only neces 
sary to analyse the judgment that men pass on the lawfulness 
of their actions, in order to find that, whatever inclination may 
say to the contrary, reason, incorruptible and self-constrained, 
always confronts the maxim of the will in any action with 
the pure will, that is, with itself, considering itself as d priori 
practical. Now this principle of morality, just on account of 
the universality of the legislation which makes it the formal 
supreme determining principle of the will, without regard to 
any subjective differences, is declared by the reason to be a 
law for all rational beings, in so far as they have a will, that 
is, a power to determine their causality by the conception of 
rules ; and, therefore, so far as they are capable of acting 
according to principles, and consequently also according to 


practical d priori principles (for these alone have the necessity 
that reason requires in a principle). It is, therefore, not limited 
to men only, but applies to all finite beings that possess reason 
and will (144) ; nay, it even includes the Infinite Being as the 
supreme intelligence. In the former case, however, the law 
has the form of an imperative, because in them, as rational 
beings, we can suppose a pure will, but being creatures affected 
with wants and physical motives, not a holy will, that is, one 
which would be incapable of any maxim conflicting with the 
moral law. In their case, therefore, the moral law is an 
imperative, which commands categorically, because the law is 
unconditioned ; the relation of such a will to this law is de 
pendence under the name of obligation, which implies a constraint 
to an action, though only by reason and its objective law ; and 
this action is called duty, because an elective will, subject to 
pathological affections (though not determined by them, and 
therefore still free), implies a wish that arises from subjective 
causes, and therefore may often be opposed to the pure objective 
determining principle ; whence it requires the moral constraint 
of a resistance of the practical reason, which may be called an 
internal, but intellectual, compulsion. In the supreme intelli 
gence the elective will is rightly conceived as incapable of any 
maxim which could not at the same time be objectively a law ; 
and the notion of holiness, which on that account belongs to it, 
places it, not indeed above all practical laws, but above all 
practically restrictive laws, and consequently above obligation 
and duty. This holiness of will is, however, a practical idea, 
which must necessarily serve as a type to which finite rational 
beings can only approximate indefinitely, and which the pure 
moral law, which is itself on this account called holy, constantly 
and rightly holds before their eyes. The utmost that finite 
practical reason can effect is to be certain of this indefinite 
progress of one s maxims, and of their steady disposition to 
advance. This is virtue, and virtue, at least as a naturally 
acquired faculty, can never be perfect, because assurance in 
such a case never becomes apodictic certainty, and when it 
only amounts to persuasion is very dangerous. 

122 THE ANALYTIC OF [l46] 


, The autonomy of the will is the sole principle of all moral 
laws, and of all duties which conform to them ; on the other 
hand, lieteronomy of the elective will not only cannot be the 
basis of any obligation, but is, on the contrary, opposed to the 
principle thereof, and to the morality of the will. 

In fact the sole principle of morality consists in the inde 
pendence on all matter of the law (namely, a desired object), 
and in the determination of the elective will by the mere uni 
versal legislative form of which its maxim must be capable. 
Now this independence is freedom in the negative sense, and this 
self-legislation of the pure, and therefore practical, reason is 
freedom in the positive sense. Thus the moral law expresses 
nothing else than the autonomy of the pure practical reason ; 
that is, freedom ; and this is itself the formal condition of all 
maxims, and on this condition only can they agree with the 
supreme practical law. If therefore the matter of the volition, 
which can be nothing else than the object of a desire that is 
connected with the law, enters into the practical law, as the 
condition of its possibility , there results heteronomy of the elective 
will, namely, dependence on the physical law that we should 
follow some impulse or inclination. In that case the will does 
not give itself the law, but only the precept how rationally to 
follow pathological law ; and the maxim which, in such a case, 
never contains the universally legislative form, not only produces 
no obligation, but is itself opposed to the principle of a pure 
practical reason, and, therefore, also to the moral disposition, 
even though the resulting action may be conformable to the 

(146) REMARK I. 

Hence a practical precept, which contains a material (and 
therefore empirical) condition, must never be reckoned a prac 
tical law. For the law of the pure will, which is free, brings 
the will into a sphere quite different from the empirical ; and 
as the necessity involved in the law is not a physical necessity, 


it can only consist in the formal conditions of the possibility 
of a law in general. All the matter of practical rules rests on 
subjective conditions, which give them only a conditional uni 
versality (in case I desire this or that, what I must do in order 
to obtain it), and they all turn on the principle of private 
happiness. Now, it is indeed undeniable that every volition 
must have an object, and therefore a matter ; but it does not 
follow that this is the determining principle, and the condition 
of the maxim ; for, if it is so, then this cannot be exhibited in a 
universally legislative form, since in that case the expectation of 
the existence of the object would be the determining cause of 
the choice, and the volition must presuppose the dependence of 
the faculty of desire on the existence of something ; but this 
dependence can only be sought in empirical conditions, and there 
fore can never furnish a foundation for a necessary and universal 
rule,. Thus, the happiness of others may be the object of the will 
of a rational being. But if it were the determining principle 
of the maxim, we must assume that we find not only a rational 
satisfaction in the welfare of others, but also a want such as 
the sympathetic disposition in some men occasions. But I 
cannot assume the existence of this want in every rational 
being (not at all in God). The matter, then, of the maxim may 
remain, but it must not be the condition of it, else the maxim 
could not be fit for a law. Hence, the mere form of law, which 
limits the matter, must also be a reason (u?) for adding this 
matter to the will, not for presupposing it. For example, let 
the matter be my own happiness. This (rule), if I attribute it 
to everyone (as, in fact, I may, in the case of every finite being], 
can become an objective practical law only if 1 include the 
happiness of others. Therefore, the law that we should promote 
the happiness of others does not arise from the assumption that 
this is an object of everyone s choice, but merely from this, that 
the form of universality which reason requires as the condition 
of giving to a maxim of self-love the objective validity of a law, 
is the principle that determines the will. Therefore it was not 
the object (the happiness of others) that determined the pure 
will, but it was the form of law only, by which I restricted my 

124 THE ANALYTIC OF [l48] 

maxim, founded on inclination, so as to give it the universality 
of a law, and thus to adapt it to the practical reason ; and it is 
this restriction alone, and not the addition of an external spring, 
that can give rise to the notion of the obligation to extend the 
maxim of my self-love to the happiness of others. 


The direct opposite of the principle. of morality is, when the 
principle of private happiness is made the determining principle 
of the will, and with this is to be reckoned, as I have shown 
above, everything that places the determining principle which 
is to serve as a law anywhere but in the legislative form of the 
maxim. This contradiction, however, is not merely logical, like 
that which would arise between rules empirically conditioned, 
if they were raised to the rank of necessary principles of cog 
nition, but is practical, and would ruin morality altogether were 
not the voice of reason in reference to the will so clear, so 
irrepressible, so distinctly audible even to the commonest men. 
It can only, indeed, be maintained in the perplexing (us) specu 
lations of the schools, which are bold enough to shut their ears 
against that heavenly voice, in order to support a theory that 
costs no trouble. 

Suppose that an acquaintance whom you otherwise liked 
were to attempt to justify himself to you for having borne false 
witness, first by alleging the, in his view, sacred duty of con 
sulting his own happiness ; then by enumerating the advantages 
which he had gained thereby, pointing out the prudence he 
had shown in securing himself against detection, even by your 
self, to whom he now reveals the secret only in order that 
he may be able to deny it at any time ; and suppose he were 
then to affirm, in all seriousness, that he has fulfilled a true 
human duty; you would either laugh in his face, or shrink 
back from him with disgust ; and yet, if a man has regulated 
his principles of action solely with a view to his own advan 
tage, you would have nothing whatever to object against this 
mode of proceeding. Or suppose some one recommends you a 


man as steward, as a man to whom you can blindly trust all 
your affairs ; and, in order to inspire you with confidence, 
extols him as a prudent man who thoroughly understands his 
own interest, and is so indefatigably active that he lets slip 
no opportunity of advancing it ; lastly, lest you should be afraid 
of finding a vulgar selfishness in him, praises the good taste 
with which he lives : not seeking his pleasure in money-making, 
or in coarse wantonness, but in the enlargement of his know 
ledge, in instructive intercourse with a select circle, and even in 
relieving the needy ; while as to the means (which, of course, 
derive all their value from the end) he is not particular, and is 
ready to use other people s money for the purpose, as if it were 
his own, provided only he knows that he can do so safely and 
without discovery; you would either believe that the recom- 
mender was mocking you, or that he had lost his senses. So 
sharply and clearly marked are the boundaries of morality and 
self-love that even the commonest eye (149) cannot fail to dis 
tinguish whether a thing belongs to the one or the other. The 
few remarks that follow may appear superfluous where the truth 
is so plain, but at least they may serve to give a little more 
distinctness to the judgment of common sense. 

The principle of happiness may, indeed, furnish maxims, 
but never such as would be competent to be laws of the will, 
even if universal happiness were made the object. For since 
the knowledge of this rests on mere empirical data, since every 
man s judgment on it depends very much on his particular 
point of view, which is itself moreover very variable, it can 
supply only general rules, not universal ; that is, it can give 
rules which on the average will most frequently fit, but not 
rules which must hold good always and necessarily ; hence, no 
practical laws can be founded on it. Just because in this case 
an object of choice is the foundation of the rule, and must 
therefore precede it ; the rule can refer to nothing but what is 
[felt] 1 , and therefore it refers to experience and is founded on 
it, and then the variety of judgment must be endless. This 

1 [Reading "ernpfindet" instead of "empfiehlt."] 

126 THE ANALYTIC OF [l50] 

principle, therefore, does not prescribe the same practical rules 
to all rational beings, although the rules are all included under 
a common title, namely, that of happiness. The moral law, 
however, is conceived as objectively necessary, only because it 
holds for everyone that has reason and will. 

The maxim of self-love (prudence) only advises ; the law of 
morality commands. Now there is a great difference between 
that which we are advised to do and that to which we are 

The commonest intelligence can easily and without hesita 
tion see what, on the principle of autonomy of the will, requires 
to be done ; but on supposition of heteronomy of the will, it is 
hard and requires knowledge of the world to see what is to be 
done. That is to say, what duty is, is plain of itself to every 
one ; but what is to bring true durable advantage, such as will 
extend to the whole of one s existence (150), is always veiled 
in impenetrable obscurity ; and much prudence is required to 
adapt the practical rule founded on it to the ends of life, even 
tolerably, by making proper exceptions. But the moral law 
commands the most punctual obedience from everyone; it 
must, therefore, not be so difficult to judge what it requires to 
be done, that the commonest unpractised understanding, even 
without worldly prudence, should fail to apply it rightly. 

It is always in everyone s power to satisfy the categorical 
command of morality ; whereas it is but seldom possible, and 
by no means so to everyone, to satisfy the empirically con 
ditioned precept of happiness, even with regard to a single 
purpose. The reason is, that in the former case there is ques 
tion only of the maxim, which must be genuine and pure ; but 
in the latter case there is question also of one s capacity and 
physical power to realize a desired object. A command that 
everyone should try to make himself happy would be foolish, 
for one never commands anyone to do what he of himself 
infallibly wishes to do. We must only command the means, or 
rather supply them, since he cannot do everything that he 
wishes. But to command morality under the name of duty is 
quite rational ; for, in the first place, not everyone is willing 


to obey its precepts if they oppose his inclinations ; and as to 
the means of obeying this law, these need not in this case be 
taught, for in this respect whatever he wishes to do he can do. 

He who has lost at play may be vexed at himself and his 
folly ; but if he is conscious of having cheated at play (although 
he has gained thereby), he must despise himself as soon as he 
compares himself with the moral law. This must, therefore, be 
something different from the principle of private happiness. 
For a man must have a different criterion when he is com 
pelled to say to himself : I am a worthless fellow, though I 
have filled my purse; and when he approves himself (151), and 
says : I am a prudent man, for I have enriched my treasure. 

Finally, there is something further in the idea of our prac 
tical reason, which accompanies the transgression of a moral 
law namely, its ill desert. Now the notion of punishment, 
as such, cannot be united with that of becoming a partaker 
of happiness ; for although he who inflicts the punishment may 
at the same time have the benevolent purpose of directing this 
punishment to this end, yet it must first be justified in itself as 
punishment, i.e. as mere harm, so that if it stopped there, and 
the person punished could get no glimpse of kindness hidden 
behind this harshness, he must yet admit that justice was done 
him, and that his reward was perfectly suitable to his conduct. 
In every punishment, as such, there must first be justice, and 
this constitutes the essence of the notion. Benevolence may, 
indeed, be united with it, but the man who has deserved punish 
ment, has not the least reason to reckon upon this. Punish 
ment, then, is a physical evil, which, though it be not connected 
with moral evil as a natural consequence, ought to be connected 
with it as a consequence by the principles of a moral legislation. 
Now, if every crime, even without regarding the physical con 
sequence with respect to the actor, is in itself punishable, that 
is, forfeits happiness (at least partially), it is obviously absurd 
to say that the crime consisted just in this, that he has drawn 
punishment on himself, thereby injuring his private happiness 
(which, on the principle of self-love, must be the proper notion 
of all crime). According to this view the punishment would 

128 THE ANALYTIC OF [l52] 

be the reason for calling anything a crime, and justice would, 
on the contrary, consist in omitting all punishment, and even 
preventing that which naturally follows ; for, if this were done, 
there would no longer be any evil in the action, since the harm 
which otherwise followed it, and on account of which alone the 
action was called evil, would now be prevented. To look, how 
ever, on all rewards and punishments as merely the machinery 
in the hand (152) of a higher power, which is to serve only to set 
rational creatures striving after their final end (happiness), this 
is to reduce the will to a mechanism destructive of freedom ; 
this is so evident that it need not detain us. 

More refined, though equally false, is the theory of those 
who suppose a certain special moral sense, which sense and not 
reason determines the moral law, and in consequence of which 
the consciousness of virtue is supposed to be directly connected 
with contentment and pleasure ; that of vice, with mental dis 
satisfaction and pain ; thus reducing the whole to the desire of 
private happiness. Without repeating what has been said 
above, I will here only remark the fallacy they fall into. In 
order to imagine the vicious man as tormented with mental 
dissatisfaction by the consciousness of his transgressions, they 
must first represent him as in the main basis of his character, 
at least in some degree, morally good ; just as he who is pleased 
with the consciousness of right conduct must be conceived as 
already virtuous. The notion of morality and duty must, 
therefore, have preceded any regard to this satisfaction, and 
cannot be derived from it. A man must first appreciate the 
importance of what we call duty, the authority of the moral 
law, and the immediate dignity which the following of it gives 
to the person in his own eyes, in order to feel that satisfaction 
in the consciousness of his conformity to it, and the bitter 
remorse that accompanies the consciousness of its transgression. 
It is, therefore, impossible to feel this satisfaction or dissatisfac 
tion prior to the knowledge of obligation, or to make it the 
basis of the latter. A man must be at least half honest in 
order even to be able to form a conception of these feelings. I 
do not deny that as the human will is, by virtue of liberty, 




capable of being immediately determined by the moral law, 
so frequent practice in accordance with this principle of 
determination can, at last, produce subjectively a feeling of 
satisfaction (153) ; on the contrary, it is a duty to establish and 
to cultivate this, which alone deserves to be called properly the 
moral feeling ; but the notion of duty cannot be derived from 
it, else we should have to suppose a feeling for the law as such, 
and thus make that an object of sensation which can only be 
thought by the reason ; and this, if it is not to be a flat contra 
diction, would destroy all notion of duty, and put in its place 
a mere mechanical play of refined inclinations sometimes con 
tending with the coarser. 

If now we compare our formal supreme principle of pure 
practical reason (that of autonomy of the will) with all previous 
material principles of morality, we can exhibit them all in a 
table in which all possible cases are exhausted, except the one 
formal principle ; and thus we can show visibly that it is vain 
to look for any other principle than that now proposed. In 
fact all possible principles of determination of the will are either 
merely subjective, and therefore empirical, or are also objective 
and rational ; and both are either external or internal. 

(154) Practical Material Principles of Determination taken as 
the Foundation of Morality, are : 










Physical feeling. 


Will of God. 



(Wolf and the 

(Crusius and other 

The civil Consti 

Moral feeling. 


theological Mo 





(155) Those at the left hand are all empirical, and evidently 
incapable of furnishing the universal principle of morality ; but 
those on the right hand are based on reason (for perfection as a 
quality of things, and the highest perfection conceived as sub 
stance, that is, God, can only be thought by means of rational 
concepts). But the former notion, namely, that of perfection, 



may either be taken in a theoretic signification, and then it 
means nothing but the completeness of each thing in its own 
kind (transcendental), or that of a thing, merely as a thing 
(metaphysical) ; and with that we are not concerned here. But 
the notion of perfection in a practical sense is the fitness or 
sufficiency of a thing for all sorts of purposes. This perfection, 
as a quality of man, and consequently internal, is nothing but 
talent, and, what strengthens or completes this, skill. Supreme 
perfection conceived as substance, that is, God, and consequently 
external (considered practically), is the sufficiency of this being, 
for all ends. Ends then must first be given, relatively to which 
only can the notion of perfection (whether internal in ourselves 
or external in God) be the determining principle of the will. 
But an end being an object which must precede the determina 
tion of the will by a practical rule, and contain the ground of 
the possibility of this determination, and therefore contain also 
the matter of the will, taken as its determining principle such 
an end is always empirical, and, therefore, may serve for the 
Epicurean principle of the happiness theory, but not for the 
pure rational principle of morality and duty. Thus, talents 
and the improvement of them, because they contribute to the 
advantages of life ; or the will of God, if agreement with it be 
taken as the object of the will, without any antecedent inde 
pendent practical principle, can be motives only by reason of 
the happiness expected therefrom. Hence it follows, first, that 
all the principles here stated are material ; secondly, that they 
include all possible material principles (ise) ; and, finally, the 
conclusion, that since material principles are quite incapable of 
furnishing the supreme moral law (as has been shown), the 
formal practical principle of the pure reason (according to which 
the mere form of a universal legislation must constitute the 
supreme and immediate determining principle of the will) is 
the only one possible which is adequate to furnish categorical 
imperatives ; that is, practical laws (which make actions a duty) ; 
and in general to serve as the principle of morality, both in 
criticizing conduct and also in its application to the human will 
to determine it. 


I. Of the Deduction of the Fundamental Principles of the Pure 
Practical Reason. 

This Analytic shows that pure reason can be practical, that 
is, can of itself determine the will independently of anything 
empirical ; and this it proves by a fact in which pure reason in 
us proves itself actually practical, namely, the autonomy shown 
in the fundamental principle of morality, by which reason 
determines the will to action. 

It shows at the same time that this fact is inseparably 
connected with the consciousness of freedom of the will ; nay, 
is identical with it ; and by this the will of a rational being, 
although as belonging to the world of sense it recognizes itself 
as necessarily subject to the laws of causality like other efficient 
causes ; yet, at the same time, on another side, namely, as a 
being in itself, is conscious of existing in and being determined 
by an intelligible order of things ; conscious not (157) by virtue 
of a special intuition of itself, but by virtue of certain dyna 
mical laws which determine its causality in the sensible world ; 
for it has been elsewhere proved that if freedom is predicated 
of us, it transports us into an intelligible order of things. 

Now, if we compare with this the analytical part of the 
critique of pure speculative reason, we shall see a remarkable 
contrast. There it was not fundamental principles, but pure, 
sensible intuition (space and time), that was the first datum that 
made a priori knowledge possible, though only of objects of the 
senses. Synthetical principles could not be derived from mere 
concepts without intuition ; on the contrary, they could only 
exist with reference to this intuition, and therefore to objects 
of possible experience, since it is the concepts of the under 
standing, united with this intuition, which alone make that 
knowledge possible which we call experience. Beyond objects 
of experience, and therefore with regard to things as noumena, 
all positive knowledge was rightly disclaimed for speculative 
reason. This reason, however, went so far as to establish with 
certainty the concept of noumena ; that is, the possibility, nay, 


132 THE ANALYTIC OF f]58] 

the necessity, of thinking them ; for example, it showed against 
all objections that the supposition of freedom, negatively con 
sidered, was quite consistent with those principles and limi 
tations of pure theoretic reason. But it could not give us 
any definite enlargement of our knowledge with respect to 
such objects, but, on the contrary, cut off all view of them 

On the other hand, the moral law, although it gives no 
view, yet gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data 
of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical 
use of reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the under 
standing (i58), nay, even defines it positively, and enables us to 
know something of it, namely, a law. 

This law (as far as rational beings are concerned) gives to 
the world of sense, which is a sensible system of nature, the 
form of a world of the understanding, that is, of a supersen 
sible system of nature, without interfering with its mechanism. 
Now, a system of nature, in the most general sense, is the 
existence of things under laws. The sensible nature of rational 
beings in general is their existence under laws empirically con 
ditioned, which, from the point of view of reason, is hetcronomy. 
The supersensible nature of the same beings, on the other hand, 
is their existence according to laws which are independent on 
every empirical condition, and therefore belong to the autonomy 
of pure reason. And, since the laws by which the existence of 
things depends on cognition are practical, supersensible nature, 
so far as we can form any notion of it, is nothing else than a 
system of nature under the autonomy of pure practical rcmon. 
Now, the law of this autonomy is the moral law, which, there 
fore, is the fundamental law of a supersensible nature, and of 
a pure world- of understanding, whose counterpart must exist 
in the world of sense, but without interfering with its laws. 
We might call the former the archetypal world (natura archc- 
typa], which we only know in the reason ; and the latter the 
ectypal world (natura ectypa}, because it contains the possible 
effect of the idea of the former which is the determining 
principle of the will. For the moral law, in fact, transfers 


us ideally into a system in which pure reason, if it were 
accompanied with adequate physical power, would produce 
the summum bonum, and it determines our will to give the 
sensible world the form of a system of rational beings. 1 

The least attention to oneself proves that this idea really 
serves as a model for the determinations of our will. 

(159) When the maxim which I am disposed to follow in 
giving testimony is tested by the practical reason, I always 
consider what it would be if it were to hold as a universal law 
of nature. It is manifest that in this view it would oblige 
everyone to speak the truth. For it cannot hold as a universal 
law of nature that statements should be allowed to have the 
force of proof, and yet to be purposely untrue. Similarly, the 
maxim which I adopt with respect to disposing freely of my 
life is at once determined, when I ask myself what it should be, 
in order that a system, of which it is the law, should main 
tain itself. It is obvious that in such a system no one could 
arbitrarily put an end to his own life, for such an arrangement 
would not be a permanent order of things. And so in all 
similar cases. Now, in nature, as it actually is an object of 
experience, the free will is not of itself determined to maxims 
which could of themselves be the foundation of a natural system 
of universal laws, or which could even be adapted to a system 
so constituted ; on the contrary, its maxims are private inclina 
tions which constitute, indeed, a natural whole in conformity 
with pathological (physical) laws, but could not form part of a 
system of nature, which would only be possible through our 
will acting in .accordance with pure practical laws. Yet we are, 
through reason, conscious of a law to which all our maxims are 
subject, as though a natural order must be originated from 
our will. This law, therefore, must be the idea of a natural 
system not given in experience, and yet possible through free 
dom ; a system, therefore, which is supersensible, and to which 
we give objective reality, at least in a practical point of view, 
since we look on it as an object of our will as pure rational beings. 

1 [The original text is, I think, corrupt.] 


Hence the distinction between the laws of a natural system 
to which the u ill is subject, and of a natural system which is 
subject to a will (as far as its relation to its free actions is con 
cerned) (ieo), rests on this, that in the former the objects must 
be causes of the ideas which determine the will ; whereas in 
the latter the will is the cause of the objects ; so that its causa 
lity has its determining principle solely in the pure faculty of 
reason, which may therefore be called a pure practical reason. 

There are therefore two very distinct problems : how, on the 
one side, pure reason can cognise objects a priori, and how on 
the other side it can be an immediate determining principle of 
the will, that is, of the causality of the rational being with 
respect to the reality of objects (through the mere thought of 
the universal validity of its own maxims as laws). 

The former, which belongs to the critique of the pure 
speculative reason, requires a previous explanation, how intui 
tions without which no object can be given, and, therefore, 
none known synthetically, are possible d priori ; and its solu 
tion turns out to be that these are all only sensible, and 
therefore do not render possible any speculative knowledge 
which goes further than possible experience reaches ; and that 
therefore all the principles of that pure speculative 1 reason 
avail only to make experience possible ; either experience of 
given objects or of those that may be given ad infinitum, but 
never are completely given. 

The latter, which belongs to the critique of practical reason, 
requires no explanation how the objects of the faculty of desire 
are possible, for that being a problem of the theoretical know 
ledge of nature is left to the critique of the speculative reason, 
but only how reason can determine the maxims, of the will ; 
whether this takes place only by means of empirical ideas as 
principles of determination, or whether pure reason can be 
practical and be the law of a possible order of nature, which 
is not empirically knowable (IGI). The possibility of such a 
supersensible system of nature, the conception of which can 

1 [The original text has " practical," obviously an error.] 


also be the ground of its reality through our own free will, 
does not require any d priori intuition (of an intelligible world) 
which, being in this case supersensible, would be impossible for 
us. For the question is only as to the determining principle 
of volition in its maxims, namely, whether it is empirical, or is 
a conception of the pure reason (having the legal character 
belonging to it in general), and how it can be the latter. It 
is left to the theoretic principles of reason to decide whether 
the causality of the will suffices for the realization of the objects 
or not, this being an inquiry into the possibility of the objects 
of the volition. Intuition of these objects is therefore of no 
importance to the practical problem. We are here concerned 
only with the determination of the will and the determining 
principles of its maxims as a free will, not at all with the result. 
For, provided only that the will conforms to the law of pure 
reason, then let its power in execution be what it may, whether 
according to these maxims of legislation of a possible system 
of nature any such system really results or not, this is no 
concern of the critique, which only inquires whether, and in 
what way, pure reason can be practical, that is directly determine 
the will. 

In this inquiry criticism may and must begin with pure 
practical laws and their reality. But instead of intuition it 
takes as their foundation the conception of their existence in 
the intelligible world, namely, the concept of freedom. For 
this concept has no other meaning, and these laws are only 
possible in relation to freedom of the will ; but freedom 
being supposed, they are necessary ; or conversely freedom is 
necessary because those laws are necessary, being practical 
postulates. It cannot be further explained how this conscious 
ness of the moral law, or, what is the same thing, of freedom, 
is possible ; but that it is admissible is well established in the 
theoretical critique. 

(162) The Exposition of the supreme principle of practical 
reason is now finished ; that is to say, it has been shown first, 
what it contains, that it subsists for itself quite d priori and 
independent on empirical principles ; and next in what it is 


distinguished from all other practical principles. With the 
deduction, that is, the justification of its objective and universal 
validity, and the discernment of the possibility of such a 
synthetical proposition a priori, we cannot expect to succeed 
so well as in the case of the principles of pure theoretical 
reason. For these referred to objects of possible experience, 
namely, to phenomena ; and we could prove that these pheno 
mena could be known as objects of experience only by being 
brought under the categories in accordance with these laws ; 
and consequently that all possible experience must conform to 
these laws. But I could not proceed in this way with the 
deduction of the moral law. For this does not concern the 
knowledge of the properties of objects, which may be given 
to the reason from some other source ; but a knowledge which 
can itself be the ground of the existence of the objects, and 
by which reason in a rational being has causality, i.e. pure 
reason, which can be regarded as a faculty immediately 
determining the will. 

Now all our human insight is at an end as soon as we have 
arrived at fundamental powers or faculties ; for the possibility 
of these cannot be understood by any means, and just as little 
should it be arbitrarily invented and assumed. Therefore, in 
the theoretic use of reason, it is experience alone that can 
justify us in assuming them. But this expedient of adducing 
empirical proofs, instead of a deduction from a priori sources 
of knowledge, is denied us here in respect to the pure practical 
faculty of reason (IGS). For whatever requires to draw the 
proof of its reality from experience must depend for the 
grounds of its possibility on principles of experience ; and pure, 
yet practical, reason by its very notion cannot be regarded as 
such. Further, the moral law is given as a fact of pure reason 
of which we are a priori conscious, and which is apodictically 
certain, though it be granted that in experience no example of 
its exact fulfilment can be found. Hence the objective reality 
of the moral law cannot be proved by any deduction by any 
efforts of theoretical reason, whether speculative or empirically 
supported, and therefore, even if we renounced its apodictic 


certainty, it could not be proved a posteriori by experience, and 
yet it is firmly established of itself. 

But instead of this vainly sought deduction of the moral 
principle, something else is found which was quite unexpected, 
namely, that this moral principle serves conversely as the 
principle of the deduction of an inscrutable faculty which no 
experience could prove, but of which speculative reason was 
compelled at least to assume the possibility (in order to find 
amongst its cosmological ideas the unconditioned in the chain 
of causality, so as not to contradict itself) I mean the faculty 
of freedom. The moral law, which itself does not require a 
justification, proves not merely the possibility of freedom, but 
that it really belongs to beings who recognize this law as 
binding on themselves. The moral law is in fact a law of the 
causality of free agents, and therefore of the possibility of a 
supersensible system of nature, just as the metaphysical law of 
events in the world of sense was a law of causality of the 
sensible system of nature ; and it therefore determines what 
speculative philosophy was compelled to leave undetermined, 
namely, the law for a causality, the concept of which in the 
latter was only negative ; and therefore for the first time gives 
this concept objective reality. 

(i64) This sort of credential of the moral law, viz. that it is 
set forth as a principle of the deduction of freedom, which is a 
causality of pure reason, is a sufficient substitute for all d priori 
justification, since theoretic reason was compelled to assume at 
least the possibility of freedom, in order to satisfy a want of its 
own. For the moral law proves its reality, so as even to satisfy 
the critique of the speculative reason, by the fact that it adds 
a positive definition to a causality previously conceived only 
negatively, the possibility of which was incomprehensible to 
speculative reason, which yet was compelled to suppose it. 
For it adds the notion of a reason that directly determines the 
will (by imposing on its maxims the condition of a universal 
legislative form) ; and thus it is able for the first time to give 
objective, though only practical, reality to reason, which always 
became transcendent when it sought to proceed speculatively 

138 THE ANALYTIC OF [ifio] 

with its ideas. It thus changes the transcendent use of reason 
into an immanent 1 use (so that reason is itself, by means of 
ideas, an efficient cause in the field of experience). 

The determination of the causality of beings in the world of 
sense, as such, can never be unconditioned ; and yet for every 
series of conditions there must be something unconditioned, 
and therefore there must be a causality which is determined 
wholly by itself. Hence, the idea of freedom as a faculty of 
absolute spontaneity was not found to be a want, but as far as 
its possibility is concerned, an analytic principle of pure specu 
lative reason. But as it is absolutely impossible to find in 
experience any example in accordance with this idea, because 
amongst the causes of things as phenomena, it would be impos 
sible to meet with any absolutely unconditioned determination 
of causality, we were only able to defend our supposition that a 
freely acting cause might be a being in the world of sense, in 
so far as it is considered in the other point of view as a 
noumenon (165), showing that there is no contradiction in 
regarding all its actions as subject to physical conditions so far 
as they are phenomena, and yet regarding its causality as. 
physically unconditioned, in so far as the acting being belongs 
to the world of understanding, 2 and in thus making the concept 
of freedom the regulative principle of reason. By this principle 
I do not indeed learn what the object is to which that sort of 
causality is attributed ; but I remove the difficulty ; for, on the 
one side, in the explanation of events in the world, and conse 
quently also of the actions of rational beings, I leave to the 
mechanism of physical necessity the right of ascending from 
conditioned to condition ad infinitum, while on the other 
side I keep open for speculative reason the place which for 
it is vacant, namely, the intelligible, in order to transfer the 

1 [By "immanent" Kant means what is strictly confined within the 
limits of experience; by "transcendent" what pretends to overpass 
these bounds. Cf. Kritik der reiiien Vernunft, ed. Rosenkr., p. 240. 
Meiklejohn s transl., p. 210.] 

- [Is a " Verstandeswesen."] 


unconditioned thither. But I was not able to verify this 
supposition , that is, to change it into the knowledge of a being 
so acting, not even into the knowledge of the possibility of such 
a being. This vacant place is now filled by pure practical 
reason with a definite law of causality in an intelligible world 
(causality with freedom), namely, the moral law. Speculative 
reason does not hereby gain anything as regards its insight, but 
only as regards the certainty of its problematical notion of 
freedom, which here obtains objective reality, which, though only 
practical, is nevertheless undoubted. Even the notion of caus 
ality the application, and consequently the signification, of 
which holds properly only in relation to phenomena, so as to 
connect them into experiences (as is shown by the critique of 
pure reason) is not so enlarged as to extend its use beyond 
these limits. For if reason sought to do this, it would have to 
show how the logical relation of principle and consequence can 
be used synthetically in a different sort of intuition from the 
sensible ; that is how a causa noumenon is possible (IGG). This 
it can never do ; and, as practical reason, it does not even concern 
itself with it, since it only places the determining principle of 
causality of man as a sensible creature (which is given) in pure 
reason (which is therefore called practical) ; and therefore it 
employs the notion of cause, not in order to know objects, but 
to determine causality in relation to objects in general. It can 
abstract altogether from the application of this notion to objects 
with a view to theoretical knowledge (since this concept is always 
found d priori in the understanding, even independently on any 
intuition). Eeason, then, employs it only for a practical purpose, 
and hence we can transfer the determining principle of the 
will into the intelligible order of things, admitting, at the same 
time, that we cannot understand how the notion of cause can 
determine the knowledge of these things. But reason must 
cognise causality with respect to the actions of the will in the 
sensible world in a definite manner ; otherwise, practical reason 
could not really produce any action. But as to the notion 
which it forms of its own causality as noumenon, it need not 
determine it theoretically with a view to the cognition of its 

140 THE ANALYTIC OF [l68] 

supersensible existence, so as to give it significance in this way. 
For it acquires significance apart from this, though only for 
practical use, namely, through the moral law. Theoretically 
viewed, it remains always a pure d priori concept of the under 
standing, which can be applied to objects whether they have 
been given sensibly or not, although in the latter case it has 
no definite theoretical significance or application, but is only 
a formal, though essential, conception of the understanding 
relating to an object in general. The significance which reason 
gives it through the moral law is merely practical, inasmuch as 
the idea of the law of causality (of the will) has itself causality, 
or is its determining principle. 

(i67) II. Of the riyht that Pure Reason in its practical use has to 
an extension which is not possible to it in its speculative use. 

We have in the moral principle set forth a law of causality, 
the determining principle of which is set above all the condi 
tions of the sensible world ; we have it conceived how the will, 
as belonging to the intelligible world, is determinable, and 
therefore we have its subject (man) not merely conceived as 
belonging to a world of pure understanding, and in this respect 
unknown (which the critique of speculative reason enabled us 
to do), but also defined as regards his causality by means of a 
law which cannot be reduced to any physical law of the sensible 
world ; and therefore our knowledge is extended beyond the 
limits of that world a pretension which the critique of the pure 
reason declared to be futile in all speculation. Now, how is 
the practical use of pure reason here to be reconciled with 
the theoretical, as to the determination of the limits of its 
faculty ? 

David Hume, of whom we may say that he commenced the 
assault on the claims of pure reason, which made a thorough 
investigation of it necessary, argued thus : the notion of cause 
is a notion that involves the necessity of the connexion of the 
existence of different things, and that, in so far as they are 
different, so that, given A, I know that something quite dis 
tinct therefrom, namely B, must necessarily also exist (168). 


Now necessity can be attributed to a connexion, only in so far 
as it is known a priori ; for experience would only enable us to 
know of such a connexion that it exists, not that it necessarily 
exists. Now, it is impossible, says he, to know a priori and as 
necessary the connexion between one thing and another (or 
between one attribute and another quite distinct) when they 
have not been given in experience. Therefore the notion of a 
cause is fictitious and delusive, and, to speak in the mildest 
way, is an illusion, only excusable inasmuch as the custom (a 
subjective necessity) of perceiving certain things, or their attri 
butes as often associated in existence along with or in succession 
to one another, is insensibly taken for an objective necessity of 
supposing such a connexion in the objects themselves, and thus 
the notion of a cause has been acquired surreptitiously and not 
legitimately ; nay, it can never be so acquired or authenticated, 
since it demands a connexion in itself vain, chimerical, and 
untenable in presence of reason, and to which no object can 
ever correspond. In this way was empiricism first introduced 
as the sole source of principles, as far as all knowledge of the 
existence of things is concerned (mathematics therefore remain 
ing excepted); and with empiricism the most thorough scepticism, 
even with regard to the whole science of nature (as philosophy). 
For on such principles we can never conclude from given attri 
butes of things as existing to a consequence (for this would 
require the notion of cause, which involves the necessity of such 
a connexion) ; we can only, guided by imagination, expect 
similar cases an expectation which is never certain, however 
often it has been fulfilled. Of no event could we say : a certain 
thing must have preceded it (169), on which it necessarily 
followed ; that is, it must have a cause ; and, therefore, however 
frequent the cases we have known in which there was such an 
antecedent, so that a rule could be derived from them, yet we 
never could suppose it as always and necessarily so happening ; 
we should, therefore, be obliged to leave its share to blind 
chance, with which all use of reason comes to an end ; and this 
firmly establishes scepticism in reference to arguments ascend 
ing from effects to causes, and makes it impregnable. 

142 THE ANALYTIC OF [l?o] 

Mathematics escaped well, so far, because Hume thought 
that its propositions were analytical ; that is, proceeded from 
one property to another, by virtue of identity, and consequently 
according to the principle of contradiction. This, however, is 
not the case, since, on the contrary, they are synthetical ; and 
although geometry, for example, has not to do with the exis 
tence of things, but only with their a priwi properties in a 
possible intuition, yet it proceeds just as in the case of the 
causal notion, from one property (A) to another wholly distinct 
(B), as necessarily connected with the former. Nevertheless, 
mathematical science, so highly vaunted for its apodictic 
certainty, must at last fall under this empiricism for the same 
reason for which Hume put custom in the place of objective 
necessity in the notion of cause, and, in spite of all its pride, 
must consent to lower its bold pretension of claiming assent 
d priori, and depend for assent to the universality of its pro 
positions on the kindness of observers, who, when called as 
witnesses, would surely not hesitate to admit that what the 
geometer propounds as a theorem they have always perceived 
to be the fact, and, consequently, although it be not necessarily 
true, yet they would permit us to expect it to be true in the 
future. In this manner Hume s empiricism leads inevitably to 
scepticism, even with regard (170) to mathematics, and conse 
quently in every scientific theoretical use of reason (for this 
belongs either to philosophy or mathematics). Whether with 
such a terrible overthrow of the chief branches of knowledge, 
common reason will escape better, and will not rather become 
irrecoverably involved in this destruction of all knowledge, so 
that from the same principles a universal scepticism should 
follow (affecting, indeed, only the learned), this I will leave 
everyone to judge for himself. 

As regards my own labours in the critical examination of 
pure reason, which were occasioned by Humes sceptical teach 
ing, but went much further, and embraced the whole field of 
pure theoretical reason in its synthetic use, and, consequently, 
the field of what is called metaphysics in general ; I proceeded 
in the following manner with respect to the doubts raised by 


the Scottish philosopher touching the notion of causality. If 
Hume took the objects of experience for things in themselves 
(as is almost always done), he was quite right in declaring 
the notion of cause to be a deception and false illusion ; for 
as to things in themselves, and their attributes as such, it is 
impossible to see why because A is given, B, which is different, 
must necessarily be also given, and therefore he could by no 
means admit such an d priori knowledge of things in them 
selves. Still less could this acute writer allow an empirical 
origin of this concept, since this is directly contradictory to 
the necessity of connexion which constitutes the essence of 
the notion of causality ; .hence the notion was proscribed, and 
in its place was put custom in the observation of the course 
of perceptions. 

It resulted, however, from my inquiries, that the objects 
with which we have to do in experience (m) are by no 
means things in themselves, but merely phenomena ; and that 
although in the case of things in themselves it is impossible 
to see how, if A is supposed, it should be contradictory that 
B, which is quite different from A, should not also be supposed 
(i.e. to see the necessity of the connexion between A as cause 
and B as effect) ; yet it can very well be conceived that, as 
phenomena, they may be necessarily connected in one experience 
in a certain way (e.g. with regard to time-relations); so that 
they could not be separated without contradicting that con 
nexion, by means of which this experience is possible in which 
they are objects, and in which alone they are cognisable by us. 
And so it was found to be in fact ; so that I was able not only 
to prove the objective reality of the concept of cause in regard 
to objects of experience, but also to deduce it as an d priori 
concept by reason of the necessity of the connexion it implied ; 
that is, to show the possibility of its origin from pure under 
standing without any empirical sources ; and thus, after re 
moving the sources of empiricism, I was also able to overthrow 
the inevitable consequence of this, namely, scepticism, first 
with regard to physical science, and then with regard to mathe 
matics (in which empiricism has just the same grounds), both 

144 THE ANALYTIC OF [172] 

being sciences which have reference to objects of possible 
experience ; herewith overthrowing the thorough doubt of 
whatever theoretic reason professes to discern. 

But how is it with the application of this category of 
causality (and all the others; for without them there can be 
no knowledge of anything existing) to things which are not 
objects of possible experience, but lie beyond its bounds ? For 
I was able to deduce the objective reality of these concepts only 
with regard to objects of possible experience (172). But even this 
very fact, that I have saved them, only in case I have proved 
that objects may by means of them be thought, though not 
determined a priori ; this it is that gives them a place in the 
pure understanding, by which they are referred to objects in 
general (sensible or not sensible). If anything is still wanting, 
it is that which is the condition of the application of these 
categories, and especially that of causality, to objects, namely, 
intuition ; for where this is not given, the application with a 
view to theoretic knowledge of the object, as a noumenon, is 
impossible ; and therefore if anyone ventures on it, is (as in 
the critique of the pure reason) absolutely forbidden. Still, 
the objective reality of the concept (of causality) remains, and 
it can be used even of noumena, but without our being able 
in the least to define the concept theoretically so as to produce 
knowledge. For that this concept, even in reference to an 
object, contains nothing impossible, was shown by this, that 
even while applied to objects of sense, its seat was certainly 
fixed in the pure understanding ; and although, when referred 
to things in themselves (which cannot be objects of experience), 
it is not capable of being determined so as to represent a definite 
object for the purpose of theoretic knowledge ; yet for any other 
purpose (for instance, a practical) it might be capable of being 
determined so as to have such application. This could not be 
the case if, as Hume maintained, this concept of causality 
contained something absolutely impossible to be thought.; 

In order now to discover this condition of the application 
of the said concept to noumena, we need only recall why we 
are not content with its application to objects of experience, but 


desire also to apply it to things in themselves. It will appear, 
then, that it is not a theoretic but a practical purpose (173) 
that makes this a necessity. In speculation, even if we were 
successful in it, we should not really gain anything in the 
knowledge of nature, or generally with regard to such objects 
as are given, but we should make a wide step from the sensibly 
conditioned (in which we have already enough to do to main 
tain ourselves, and to follow carefully the chain of causes) to 
the supersensible, in order to complete our knowledge of prin 
ciples and to fix its limits : whereas there always remains an 
infinite chasm unfilled between those limits and what we know : 
and we should have hearkened to a vain curiosity rather than a 
solid desire of knowledge. 

But, besides the relation in which the understanding stands 
to objects (in theoretical knowledge), it has also a relation to 
the faculty of desire, which is therefore called the will, and the 
pure will, inasmuch as pure understanding (in this case called 
reason) is practical through the mere conception of a law. The 
objective reality of a pure will, or, what is the same thing, of a 
pure practical reason, is given in the moral law d priori, as it 
were, by a fact, for so we may name a determination of the will 
which is inevitable, although it does not rest on empirical prin 
ciples. Now, in the notion of a will the notion of causality is , 
already contained, and hence the notion of a pure will contains 
that of a causality accompanied with freedom, that is, one which 
is not determinate by physical laws, and consequently is not 
capable of any empirical intuition in proof of its reality, but, 
nevertheless, completely justifies its objective reality d priori in 
the pure practical law ; not, indeed (as is easily seen) for the 
purposes of the theoretical, but of the practical use of reason. 
Now, the notion of a being that has free will is the notion of a 
causa noumenon ; and that this notion involves no contradiction 
(174) we are already assured by the fact that, inasmuch as the 
concept of cause has arisen wholly from pure understanding, 
and has its objective reality assured by the Deduction, as it is 
moreover in its origin independent on any sensible conditions, 
it is, therefore, not restricted to phenomena (unless we wanted 


146 THE ANALYTIC OF [l75] 

to make a definite theoretic use of it), but can be applied 
equally to things that are objects of the pure understanding. 
But, since this application cannot rest on any intuition (for 
intuition can only be sensible), therefore, causa noumenon, as 
regards the theoretic use of reason, although a possible and 
thinkable, is yet an empty notion. Now, I do not desire by 
means of this to understand theoretically the nature of a being, 
in so far as it has a pure will ; it is enough for me to have 
thereby designated it as such, and hence to combine the notion 
of causality with that of freedom (and what is inseparable from 
it, the moral law, as its determining principle). Now, this right 
I certainly have by virtue of the pure, not-empirical origin of 
the notion of cause, since I do not consider myself entitled to 
make any use of it except in reference to the moral law which 
determines its reality, that is, only a practical use. 

If, with Hume, I had denied to the notion of causality all 
objective reality in its [theoretic 1 ] use, not merely with regard 
to things in themselves (the supersensible), but also with regard 
to the objects of the senses, it would have lost all significance, 
and being a theoretically impossible notion would have been 
declared to be quite useless ; and since what is nothing cannot 
be made any use of, the practical use of a concept theoretically 
null would have been absurd. But, as it is, the concept of 
a causality free from empirical conditions, although empty 
(i.e. without any appropriate intuition), is yet theoretically 
possible (175), and refers to an indeterminate object; but in 
compensation significance is given to it in the moral law, and 
consequently in a practical sense. I have, indeed, no intuition 
which should determine its objective theoretic reality, but not 
the less it has a real application, which is exhibited in concrete 
in intentions or maxims ; that is, it has a practical reality 
which can be specified, and this is sufficient to justify it even 
with a view to noumena. 

Now, this objective reality of a pure concept of the under 
standing in the sphere of the supersensible, once brought in, 

: [The original has " practical "; clearly an error.] 


gives an objective reality also to all the other categories j 
although only so far as they stand in necessary connexion with 
the determining principle of the will (the moral law) ; a reality 
only of practical application, which has not the least effect in 
enlarging our theoretical knowledge of these objects, or the 
discernment of their nature by pure reason. So we shall find 
also in the sequel that these categories refer only to beings as 
intelligences, and in them only to the relation of reason to the 
will ; consequently, always only to the practical, and beyond 
this cannot pretend to any knowledge of these things; and 
whatever other properties belonging to the theoretical repre 
sentation of supersensible things may be brought into connexion 
with these categories, this is not to be reckoned as knowledge, 
but only as a right (in a practical point of view, however, it is 
a necessity) to admit and assume such beings, even in the 
case where we [conceive 1 ] supersensible beings (e.g. God) accord 
ing to analogy, that is, a purely rational relation, of which we 
make a practical use with reference to what is sensible ; and 
thus the application to the supersensible solely in a practical 
point of view does not give jmre theoretic reason the least 
encouragement to run riot into the transcendent. 

1 [The verb, indispensable to the sense, is absent from the original 


148 THE ANALYTIC "OF [177] 

(176) CHAPTEE II. 


BY a concept of the practical reason I understand the idea of 
an object as an effect possible to be produced through freedom. 
To be an object of practical knowledge, as such, signifies, 
therefore, only the relation of the will to the action by which 
the object or its opposite would be realized ; and to decide 
whether something is an object of pure practical reason or not, 
is only to discern the possibility or impossibility of willing the 
action by which, if we had the required power (about which 
experience must decide), a certain object would be realized. If 
the object be taken as the determining principle of our desire, 
it must first be known whether it is physically possible by the 
free use of our powers, before we decide whether it is an object 
of practical reason or not. On the other hand, if the law can 
be considered d priori as the determining principle of the 
action, and the latter therefore as determined by pure practical 
reason; the judgment whether a thing (177) is an object of 
pure practical reason or not does not depend at all on the 
comparison with our physical power ; and the question is only 
whether we should will an action that is directed to the exist 
ence of an object, if the object were in our power ; hence the 
previous question is only as to the moral possibility of the 
action, for in this case it is not the object, but the law of the 
will, that is the determining principle of the action. The only 
objects of practical reason are therefore those of good and evil. 
For by the former is meant an object necessarily desired 
according to a principle of reason ; by the latter one necessarily 
shunned, also according to a principle of reason. 

If the notion of good is not to be derived from an antecedent 


practical law, but, on the contrary, is to serve as its foundation, 
it can only be the notion of something whose existence promises 
pleasure, and thus determines the causality of the subject to 
produce it, that is to say, determines the faculty of desire. 
Now, since it is impossible to discern d priori what idea will be 
accompanied with pleasure, and what with pain, it will depend 
on experience alone to find out what is primarily 1 good or evil. 
v The property of the subject, with reference to which alone 
this experiment can be made, is the feeling of pleasure and 
pain, a receptivity belonging to the internal sense ; thus that 
only would be primarily good with which the sensation of 
pleasure is immediately connected, and that simply evil which 
immediately excites pain. Since, however, this is opposed 
even to the usage of language, which distinguishes the pleasant 
from the good, the unpleasant from the evil, and requires that 
good and evil shall always be judged by reason, and, therefore, 
by concepts which can be communicated to everyone, and not 
by mere sensation, which is limited to individual subjects 2 and 
their susceptibility (ITS) ; and, since nevertheless, pleasure or 
pain cannot be connected with any idea of an object d priori, 
the philosopher who thought himself obliged to make a feeling 
of pleasure the foundation of his practical judgments would 
call that good which is a means to the pleasant, and evil, what is 
a cause of unpleasantness and pain ; for the judgment on the 
relation of means to ends certainly belongs to reason. But, 
although reason is alone capable of discerning the connexion of 
means with their ends (so that the will might even be denned 
as the faculty of ends, since these are always determining 
principles of the desires), yet the practical maxims which would 
follow from the aforesaid principle of the good being merely a 
means, would never contain as the object of the will anything 
good in itself, but only something good for something ; the good 
would always be merely the useful, and that for which it is 

1 [Or " immediately," i.e. without reference to any ulterior result.] 

2 [The original has "objects" [objecte], which makes no sense. I have 
therefore ventured to correct it.] 

150 THE ANALYTIC OF [l79] 

useful must always lie outside the will, in sensation. Now if 
this as a pleasant sensation were to be distinguished from the 
notion of good, then there would be nothing primarily good at 
all, but the good would have to be sought only in the means to 
something else, namely, some pleasantness. 

It is an old formula of the schools : Nihil appctimus nisi sub 
ratione boni ; Nihil avcrsamvr nisi sub ratione mali ; and it is used 
often correctly, but often also in a manner injurious to philo 
sophy, because the expressions boni and mali are ambiguous, 
owing to the poverty of language, in consequence of which 
they admit a double sense, and, therefore, inevitably bring the 
practical laws into ambiguity ; and philosophy, which in employ 
ing them becomes aware of the different meanings in the same 
word, but can find no special expressions for them, is driven 
to subtle distinctions about which there is subsequently no 
unanimity, because the distinction (179) could not be directly 
marked by any suitable expression. 1 

The German language has the good fortune to possess expres 
sions which do not allow this difference to be overlooked. 
It possesses two very distinct concepts, and especially distinct 
expressions, for that which the Latins express by a single word, 
bonum. For bonum it has " das Gute " [good], and " das 
Wohl " [well, weal], for malum " das Bose " [evil], and " das 
Ubel"[ill, bad], or "das Weh " [woe]. So that we express 
two quite distinct judgments when we consider in an action the 
(food and cril of it, or our v.val and woe (ill). Hence it already 
follows that the above-quoted psychological proposition is at 
least very doubtful if it is translated : " we desire nothing 
except with a view to our it cal or woe " ; on the other 

1 Besides this, the expression sub ratione boni is also ambiguous. For 
it may mean : We represent something to ourselves as good, when and 
because we desire (will) it ; or, we desire something because we represent 
it to ourselves as good, so that either the desire determines the notion of 
the object as good, or the notion of good determines the desire (the will) ; 
so that in the first case sub ratione boni would mean we will something 
under the idea of the good ; in the second, in consequence of this idea, 
which, as determining the volition, must precede it. 


hand, if we render it thus : " under the direction of reason we 
desire nothing except so far as we esteem it good or evil," 
it is indubitably certain, and at the same time quite clearly 
expressed. 1 

Well or ill always implies only a reference to our condition, 
as pleasant or unpleasant, as one of pleasure or pain, and if we 
desire or avoid an object on this account, it is only so far as it is 
referred to our sensibility and to the feeling of pleasure or pain 
that it produces. But good or evil always implies a reference to 
the will, as determined by the law of reason to make something 
its object (iso) ; for it is never determined directly by the object 
and the idea of it, but is a faculty of taking a rule of reason 
for the motive of an action (by which an object may be 
realised). Good and evil, therefore, are properly referred to 
actions, not to the sensations of the person, and if anything is 
to be good or evil absolutely (i.e. in every respect and without 
any further condition), or is to be so esteemed, it can only be 
the manner of acting, the maxim of the will, and consequently 
the acting person himself as a good or evil man that can be so 
called, and not a thing. 

However, then, men may laugh at the Stoic, who in the 
severest paroxysms of gout cried out : Pain, however thou tor- 
mentest me, I will never admit that thou art an evil (KUKOV, 
malum) : he was right. A bad thing it certainly was, and his 
cry betrayed that ; but that any evil attached to him thereby, 
this he had no reason whatever to admit, for pain did not in 
the least diminish the worth of his person, but only that of his. 
condition. If he had been conscious of a single lie, it would 

1 [The English language marks the distinction in question, though not 
perfectly. " Evil " is not absolutely restricted to moral evil ; we speak 
also of physical evils ; but certainly when not so qualified it applies usually 
(as an adjective, perhaps exclusively) to moral evil. "Bad" is more 
general ; but when used with a word connoting moral qualities, it expresses 
moral evil ; for example, a "bad man," a " bad scholar." These words 
are etymologically the same as the German "libel" and "bdse" respec 
tively. "Good" is ambiguous, being opposed to "bad, "as well as to 
" evil," but the corresponding German word is equally ambiguous.] 

152 THE ANALYTIC OF [l8l] 

have lowered his pride, but pain served only to raise it, 
when he was conscious that he had not deserved it by any 
unrighteous action by vhich he had rendered himself worthy 
of punishment. 

What we call good must be an object of desire in the judg 
ment of every rational man, and evil an object of aversion in 
the eyes of everyone ; therefore, in addition to sense, this 
judgment requires reason. So it is with truthfulness, as op 
posed to lying ; so with justice, as opposed to violence, &c. 
But we may call a thing a bad [or ill] thing, which yet every 
one must at the same time acknowledge to be good, sometimes 
directly, sometimes indirectly (isi). The man who submits to 
a surgical operation feels it no doubt as a bad [ill] thing, but 
by their reason he and everyone acknowledge it to be good. 
If a man who delights in annoying and vexing peaceable 
people at last receives a right good beating, this is no doubt a 
bad [ill] thing ; but everyone approves it and regards it as a 
good thing, even though nothing else resulted from it ; nay, 
even the man who receives it must in his reason acknowledge 
that he has met justice, because he sees the proportion between 
good conduct and good fortune, which reason inevitably places 
before him, here put into practice. 

No doubt our weal and woe are of very great importance in 
the estimation, of our practical reason, and as far as our nature 
as sensible beings is concerned, our Jiappincss is the only thing 
of consequence, provided it is estimated as reason especially 
requires, not by the transitory sensation, but by the influence 
that this has on our whole existence, and on our satisfaction 
therewith ; but it is not absolutely the only thing of consequence. 
Man is a being who, as belonging to the world of sense, has 
wants, and so far his reason has an office which it cannot re 
fuse, namely, to attend to the interest of his sensible nature, 
and to form practical maxims, even with a view to the happi 
ness of this life, and if possible even to that of a future. But 
he is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what 
reason says on its own account, and to use it merely as an 
instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a sensible l>eing. 


For the possession of reason would not raise his worth above 
that of the brutes, if it is to serve him only for the same pur 
pose that instinct serves in them ; it would in that case be only 
a particular method which nature had employed to equip man 
for the same ends (i82) for which it has qualified brutes, without 
qualifying him for any higher purpose. No doubt once this 
arrangement of nature has been made for him, he requires reason 
in order to take into consideration his weal and woe ; but besides 
this he possesses it for a higher purpose also, namely, not only 
to take into consideration what is good or evil in itself, about 
which only pure reason, uninfluenced by any sensible interest, 
can judge, but also to distinguish this estimate thoroughly from 
the former, and to make it the supreme condition thereof. 

In estimating what is good or evil in itself, as distinguished 
from what can be so called only relatively, the following points 
are to be considered. Either a rational principle is already 
conceived as of itself the determining principle of the will, 
without regard to possible objects of desire (and therefore by 
the mere legislative form of the maxim), and in that case 
that principle is a practical d priori law, and pure reason is 
supposed to be practical of itself. The law in that case deter 
mines the will directly ; the action conformed to it is good in 
itself ; a will whose maxim always conforms to this law is good 
absolutely in every respect, and is the supreme condition of all good. 
Or the maxim of the will is consequent on a determining prin 
ciple of desire which presupposes an object of pleasure or pain, 
something therefore that pleases or displeases ; and the maxim of 
reason that we should pursue the former and avoid the latter 
determines our actions as good relatively to our inclination, 
that is, good indirectly (i.e. relatively to a different end to 
which they are means), and in that case these maxims can 
never be called laws, but may be called rational practical pre 
cepts. The end itself, the pleasure that we seek, is in the latter 
case not a good but a welfare ; not a concept of reason (i83), but 
an empirical concept of an object of sensation ; but the use of 
the means thereto, that is, the action, is nevertheless called 
good (because rational deliberation is required for it), not, 


however, good absolutely, but only relatively to our sensuous 
nature, with regard to its feelings of pleasure and displeasure ; 
but the will whose maxim is affected thereby is not a pure will ; 
this is directed only to that in which pure reason by itself can 
be practical. 

This is the proper place to explain the paradox of method 
in a critique of Practical Reason, namely, tJiat the concept of 
good and evil must not be determined before the moral law (of which 
it seems as if it must be the foundation), but only after it and Inj 
means of it. In fact, even if we did not know that the principle 
of morality is a pure a priori law determining the will, yet, 
that we may not assume principles quite gratuitously, we must, 
at least at first, leave it undecided, whether the will has merely 
empirical principles of determination, or whether it has not also 
pure d priori principles ; for it ib contrary to all rules of philo 
sophical method to assume as decided that which is the very 
point in question. Supposing that we wished to begin with the 
concept of good, in order to deduce from it the laws of the will, 
then this concept of an object (as a good) would at the same 
time assign to us this object as the sole determining principle 
of the will. Now, since this concept had not any practical a 
priori law for its standard, the criterion of good or evil could 
not be placed in anything but the agreement of the object with 
our feeling of pleasure or pain ; and the use of reason could 
only consist in determining in the first place this pleasure or 
pain in connexion with all the sensations of my existence, and 
in the second place the means of securing to myself the object 
of the pleasure (is-t). Now, as experience alone can decide what 
conforms to the feeling of pleasure, and by hypothesis the prac 
tical law is to be based on this as a condition, it follows that 
the possibility of d priori practical laws would be at once ex 
cluded, because it was imagined to be necessary first of all to 
find an object the concept of which, as a good, should constitute 
the universal though empirical principle of determination of the 
will. But what it was necessary to inquire first of all was 
whether there is not an d priori determining principle of the 
will (and this could never be found anywhere but in a pure 


practical law, in so far as this- law prescribes to maxims merely 
their form without regard to an object). Since, however, we 
laid the foundation of all practical law in an object determined 
by our conceptions of good and evil, whereas without a previous 
law that object could only be conceived by empirical concepts, 
we have deprived ourselves beforehand of the possibility of even 
conceiving a pure practical law. On the other hand, if we had 
first investigated the latter analytically, we should have found 
that it is not the concept of good as an object that determines 
the moral law, and makes it possible, but that, on the contrary, 
it is the moral law that first determines the concept of good,, 
and makes it possible, so far as it deserves the name of good 

This remark, which only concerns the method of ultimate 
Ethical inquiries, is of importance. It explains at once the 
occasion of all the mistakes of philosophers with respect to the 
supreme principle of morals. For they sought for an object of 
the will which they could make the matter and principle of a 
law (which consequently could not determine the will directly 
but by means of that object referred to the feeling of pleasure 
or pain) (iss) ; whereas they ought first to have searched for a 
law that would determine the will a, priori and directly, and 
afterwards determine the object in accordance with the will. 
Now, whether they placed this object of pleasure, which was 
to supply the supreme conception of goodness, in happiness, in 
perfection, in moral [feeling 1 ], or in the will of God, their 
principle in every case implied heteronomy, and they must 
inevitably come upon empirical conditions of moral law, since 
their object, which was to be the immediate principle of the 
will, could not be called good or bad except in its immediate 
relation to feeling, which is always empirical. It is only a 
formal law that is, one which prescribes to. reason nothing 
more than the form of its universal legislation as the supreme 
condition of its maxims that can be d priori a determining 

1 [Rosenkranz 1 text has "law" certainly an error ("Gesetz" for 
"Oefuhl"); Hartenstein corrects it.] 

156 THE ANALYTIC OF [l86] 

principle of practical reason. The ancients avowed this error 
without concealment by directing all their moral inquiries to 
the determination of the notion of the summum bonum, which 
they intended afterwards to make the determining principle of 
the will in the moral law ; whereas it is only far later, when 
the moral law has been first established for itself, and shown 
to be the direct determining principle of the will, that this 
object can be presented to the will, whose form is now deter 
mined d priori ; and this we shall undertake in the Dialectic 
of the pure practical reason. The moderns, with whom the 
question of the summum bonum has gone out of fashion, or at 
least seems to have become a secondary matter, hide the same 
error under vague (expressions as in many other cases). It 
shows itself, nevertheless, in their systems, as it always pro 
duces heteronomy of practical reason ; and from this can never 
be derived a moral law giving universal commands. 

(ise) Now, since the notions of good and evil, as conse 
quences of the d priori determination of the will, imply also 
a pure practical principle, and therefore a causality of pure 
reason ; hence they do not originally refer to objects (so as to 
be, for instance, special modes of the synthetic unity of the 
manifold of given intuitions in one consciousness 1 ) like the 
pure concepts of the understanding or categories of reason in 
its theoretic employment; on the contrary, they presuppose 
that objects are given ; but they are all modes (modi) of a 
single category, namely, that of causality, the determining 
principle of which consists in the rational conception of a law, 
which as a law of freedom reason gives to itself, thereby d 
priori proving itself practical. However, as the actions on the 
one side come under a law which is not a physical law, but 
a law of freedom, and consequently belong to the conduct of 
beings in the world of intelligence, yet on the other side as 
events in the world of sense they belong to phenomena ; hence 
the determinations of a practical reason are only possible in 

1 [For the meaning of this expression, see the Critique of Pure Reason, 
trans, by Meiklejohn, p. 82.] 


reference to the latter, and therefore in accordance with the 
categories of the understanding ; not indeed with a view to any 
theoretic employment of it, i.e. so as to bring the manifold of 
(sensible) intuition under one consciousness a priori ; but only 
to subject the manifold of desires to the unity of consciousness 
of a practical reason, giving it commands in the moral law, i.e. 
to a pure will a priori. 

These categories of freedom for so we choose to call them 
in contrast to those theoretic categories which are categories of 
physical nature have an obvious advantage over the latter, 
inasmuch as the latter are only forms of thought which desig 
nate objects in an indefinite manner by means of universal 
concepts for every possible intuition ; the former, on the con 
trary, refer to the determination of a free elective will (to which 
indeed no exactly corresponding intuition can be assigned (187;, 
but which has as its foundation a pure practical d priori law, 
which is not the case with any concepts belonging to the 
theoretic use of our cognitive faculties) ; hence, instead of the 
form of intuition (space and time), which does not lie in reason 
itself, but has to be drawn from another source, namely, the 
sensibility, these being elementary practical concepts have as 
their foundation the/orm of a pure will, which is given in 
reason, and therefore in the thinking faculty itself. From this it 
happens that as all precepts of pure practical reason have to do 
only with the determination of the will, not with the physical 
conditions (of practical ability) of the execution of one s purpose, 
the practical a priori principles in relation to the supreme 
principle of freedom are at once cognitions, and have not to wait 
for intuitions in order to acquire significance, and that for this 
remarkable reason, because they themselves produce the reality 
of that to which they refer (the intention of the will), which 
is not the case with theoretical concepts. Only we must be 
careful to observe that these categories only apply to the 
practical reason ; and thus they proceed in order from those 
which are as yet subject to sensible conditions and morally 
indeterminate to those which are free from sensible conditions, 
and determined merely by the moral law. 

158 THE ANALYTIC OF [l89] 

(iss) Table of the Categories of Freedom relatively to the 
Notions of Good and Evil. 


Subjective, according to maxims (practical opinions of the individual). 

Objective, according to principles (precepts). 

A priori, both objective and subjective principles of freedom (laics). 


Practical rules of action (praceptiwv). 
Practical rules of omission (prohibitive). 
Practical rules of exception (exceptivce). 


To personality. 

To the condition of the person. 

Reciprocal, of one person to the condition of the others. 


The permitted and the forbidden. 
Duty and the contrary to duty. 
Perfect and imperfect ditty. 

(139) It will at once be observed that in this table freedom 
is considered as a sort of causality not subject to empirical prin 
ciples of determination, in regard to actions possible by it, which 
are phenomena in the world of sense, and that consequently it 
is referred to the categories which concern its physical possi 
bility, whilst yet each category is taken so universally that the 
determining principle of that causality can be placed outside the 
world of sense in freedom as a property of a being in the world 
of intelligence ; and finally the categories of modality introduce 
the transition from practical principles generally to those of 
morality, but only problematically. These can be established 
dogmatically only by the moral law. 

I add nothing further here in explanation of the present 
table, since it is intelligible enough of itself. A division of this 
kind based on principles is very useful in any science, both for 
the sake of thoroughness and intelligibility. Thus, for instance, 
we know from the preceding table and its first number what 


we must begin from in practical inquiries, namely, from the 
maxims which everyone founds on his own inclinations ; the 
precepts which hold for a species of rational beings so far as 
they agree in certain inclinations; and finally the law which 
holds for all without regard to their inclinations, &c. In this 
way we survey the whole plan of what has to be done, every 
question of practical philosophy that has to be answered, and 
also the order that is to be followed. 

Of the Typic of the Pure Practical Judgment. 

It is the notions of good and evil that first determine an 
object of the will. They themselves, however, (190) are subject 
to a practical rule of reason, which, if it is pure reason, deter 
mines the will a priori relatively to its object. Now, whether 
an action which is possible to us in the world of sense comes 
under the rule or not, is a question to be decided by the prac 
tical Judgment, by which what is said in the rule universally 
(in abstracto} is applied to an action in concreto. But since a 
practical rule of pure reason in the first place as practical con 
cerns the existence of an object, and in the second place as a 
practical rule of pure reason implies necessity as regards the 
existence of the action, and therefore is a practical law, not a 
physical law depending on empirical principles of determination, 
but a law of freedom by which the will is to be determined 
independently on anything empirical (merely by the conception 
of a law and its form), whereas all instances that can occur of 
possible actions can only be empirical, that is, belong to the 
experience of physical nature ; hence, it seems absurd to expect 
to find in the world of sense a case which, while as such it 
depends only on the law of nature, yet admits of the application 
to it of a law of freedom, and to which we can apply the super 
sensible idea of the morally good which is to be exhibited in it 
7?i concreto. Thus, the Judgment of the pure practical reason is 
subject to the same difficulties as that of the pure theoretical 
reason. The latter, however, had means at hand of escaping 
from these difficulties, because, in regard to the theoretical 

160 THE ANALYTIC OF [l9l] 

employment, intuitions were required to which pure concepts 
of the understanding could be applied, and such intuitions 
(though only of objects of the senses) can be given d priori, 
and therefore, as far as regards the union of the manifold in 
them, conforming to the pure d priori concepts of the under 
standing as schemata. On the other hand, the morally good is 
something whose object is supersensible ; for which, therefore, 
nothing corresponding can be found in any sensible intuition (i9i). 
Judgment depending on laws of pure practical reason seems, 
therefore, to be subject to special difficulties arising from this, 
that a law of freedom is to be applied to actions, which are 
events taking place in the world of sense, and which, so far, 
belong to physical nature. 

But here again is opened a favourable prospect for the pure 
practical Judgment. When I subsume under a pure practical 
law an action possible to me in the world of sense, I am not 
concerned with the possibility of the action as an event in the 
world of sense. This is a matter that belongs to the decision 
of reason in its theoretic use according to the law of causality, 
which is a pure concept of the understanding, for which reason 
has a schenui in the sensible intuition. Physical causality, or 
the condition under which it takes place, belongs to the physi 
cal concepts, the schema of which is sketched by transcendental 
imagination. Here, however, we have to do, not with the 
schema of a case that occurs according to laws, but with the 
schema of a law itself (if the word is allowable here), since 
the fact that the will (not the action relatively to its effect) is 
determined by the law alone without any other principle, con 
nects the notion of causality with quite different conditions 
from those which constitute physical connexion. 

The physical law being a law to which the objects of sen 
sible intuition, as such, are subject, must have a schema corre 
sponding to it that is, a general procedure of the imagination 
(by which it exhibits d priori to the senses the pure concept of 
the understanding which the law determines). But the law of 
freedom (that is, of a causality not subject to sensible condi 
tions), and consequently the concept of the unconditionally 


good, cannot have any intuition, nor consequently any schema 
supplied to it for the purpose of its application in concrcto. 
Consequently the moral law has no faculty (192) but the under 
standing to aid its application to physical objects (not the 
imagination) ; and the understanding for the purposes of the 
judgment can provide for an idea of the reason, not a schema 
of the sensibility, but a law, though only as to its form as law ; 
such a law, however, as can be exhibited in concrcto in objects 
of the senses, and, therefore a law of nature. We can therefore 
call this law the Type of the moral law. 

The rule of the judgment according to laws of pure prac 
tical reason is this : ask yourself whether, if the action you 
propose were to take place by a law of. the system of nature of 
which you were yourself a part, you could regard it as possible 
by your own will. Everyone does, in fact, decide by this rule 
whether actions are morally good or evil. Thus, people say : 
If everyone permitted himself to deceive, when he thought it to 
his advantage ; or thought himself justified in shortening his 
life as soon as he was thoroughly weary of it ; or looked with 
perfect indifference on the necessity of others ; and if you 
belonged to such an order of things, would you do so with 
the assent of your own will ? Now everyone knows well that 
if he secretly allows himself to deceive, it does not follow that 
everyone else does so ; or if, unobserved, he is destitute of com 
passion, others would not necessarily be so to him ; hence, this 
comparison of the maxim of his actions with a universal law of 
nature is not the determining principle of his will. Such a law 
is, nevertheless, a type of the estimation of the maxim on moral 
principles. If the maxim of the action is not such as to stand 
the test of the form of a universal law of nature, then it is 
morally impossible. This is the judgment even of common 
sense ; for its ordinary judgments, even those of experience, 
are always based on the law of nature. It has it, therefore, 
always at hand, only that in cases (193) where causality from 
freedom is to be criticized, it makes that law of nature only the 
type of a law of freedom, because without something which it 
could use as an example in a case of experience, it could not 


1-62 THE ANALYTIC OF [194] 

give the law of a pure practical reason its proper use in 

It is therefore allowable to use the system of the world of 
sense as the type of a supersensible system of things, provided I 
do not transfer to the latter the intuitions, and what depends 
on them, but merely apply to it the form of law in general (the 
notion of which occurs even in the [commonest] 1 use of reason, 
but cannot be definitely known d priori for any other purpose 
than the pure practical use of reason) ; for laws, as such, are 
so far identical, no matter from what they derive their deter 
mining principles. 

Further, since of all the supersensible absolutely nothing 
[is known] except freedom (through the moral law), and this 
only so far as it is inseparably implied in that law, and more 
over all supersensible objects to which reason might lead us, 
following the guidance of that law, have still no reality for us, 
except for the purpose of that law, and for the use of mere 
practical reason ; and as reason is authorized and even com 
pelled to use physical nature (in its pure form us an object 
of the understanding) as the type of the judgment ; hence, 
the present remark will serve to guard against reckoning 
amongst concepts themselves that which belongs only to the 
typic of concepts. This, namely, as a typic of the judgment, 
guards against the empiricism of practical reason, which founds 
the practical notions of good and evil merely on experienced 
consequences (so-called happiness). No doubt happiness and 
the infinite advantages which would result from a will deter 
mined by self-love, if this will at the same time erected itself 
into a universal law of nature (194), may certainly serve as a 
perfectly suitable type for the morally good, but it is not iden- 
tical with it. The same typic guards also against the mysticism 
of practical reason, which turns what served only as a symbol 
into a schema, that is. proposes to provide for the moral concepts 
actual intuitions, which, however, are not sensible fin tuitions of 

[Adopting Hartenstein s conjecture "gemeinste," for reinste," 
" purest."] 


an invisible Kingdom of God), and thus plunges into the tran 
scendent. What is befitting the use of the moral concepts is only 
the rationalism of the judgment, which takes from the sensible 
system of nature only what pure reason can also conceive of 
itself, that is, conformity to law, and transfers into the super 
sensible nothing but what can conversely be actually exhibited 
by actions in the world of sense according to the formal rule of 
a law of nature. However, the caution against empiricism of 
practical reason is much more important ; for 1 mysticism is 
quite reconcilable with the purity and sublimity of the mbral 
law, and, besides, it is not very natural or agreeable to common 
habits of thought to strain one s imagination to supersensible 
intuitions ; and hence the danger on this side is not so general. 
Empiricism, on the contrary, cuts up at the roots the morality 
of intentions (in which, and not in actions only, consists the 
high worth that men can and ought to give to themselves), and 
substitutes for duty something quite different, namely, an 
empirical interest, with which the inclinations generally are 
secretly leagued ; and empiricism, moreover, being on this 
account allied with all the inclinations which (no matter what 
fashion they put on) degrade humanity when they are raised 
to the dignity of a supreme practical principle ; and as these, 
nevertheless, are so favourable to everyone s feelings, it is 
for that reason much more dangerous than mysticism, which 
can never constitute a lasting condition of any great number 
of persons. 

[ Read "well" with Hartenstein, not womit."] 

M 1 

164 THE ANALYTIC OF [l96] 



WHAT is essential in the moral worth of actions is that the 
moral law should directly determine the will. If the deter 
mination of the will takes place in conformity indeed to the 
moral law, but only by means of a feeling, no matter of what 
kind, which has to be presupposed in order that the law may be 
sufficient to determine the will, and therefore not for the sake 
of the la w, then the action will possess legality but not morality. 
Xow, if we understand by motive [or spring] (elater animi) the 
subjective ground of determination of the will of a being 
whose reason does not necessarily conform to the objective 
law, by virtue of its own nature, then it will follow, first, that 
no motives can be attributed to the Divine will, and that the 
motives of the human will (as well as that of every created 
rational being) can never be anything else than the moral law, 
and consequently that the objective principle of determination 
must always and alone be also the subjectively sufficient 
determining principle of the action (IOG), if this is not merely 
to fulfil the letter of the law, without containing its spirit. 1 

Since, then, for the purpose of giving the moral law in 
fluence over the will, we must not seek for any other motives 
that might enable us to dispense with the motive of the law 
itself, because that would produce mere hypocrisy, without 
consistency ; and it is even dangerous to allow other motives 
(for instance, that of interest) even to co-operate along with the 
moral law ; hence nothing is left us but to determine carefully 

1 We may say of every action that conforms to the law, hut is not done 
for the sake of the law, that it is morally good in the letter, not in the 
spirit (the intention). 


in what way the moral law becomes a motive, and what effect 
this has upon the faculty of desire. For as to the question how 
a law can be directly and of itself a determining principle of 
the will (which is the essence of morality), this is, for human 
reason, an insoluble problem and identical with the question : 
how a free will is possible. Therefore what we have to show 
a priori is, not why the moral law in itself supplies a motive, 
but what effect it, as such, produces (or, more correctly speaking, 
must produce) on the mind. 

The essential point in every determination of the will by 
the moral law, is that being a free will it is determined simply 
by the moral law, not only without the co-operation of sensible 
impulses, but even to the rejection of all such, and to the 
checking of all inclinations so far as they might be opposed to 
that law. So far, then, the effect of the moral law as a motive 
is only negative, and this motive can be known a priori to be 
such. For all inclination and every sensible impulse is founded 
on feeling, and the negative effect (197) produced on feeling (by 
the check on the inclinations) is itself feeling ; consequently, 
we can see d priori that the moral law, as a determining prin 
ciple of the will, must by thwarting all our inclinations produce 
a feeling which may be called pain ; and in this we have the 
first, perhaps the only, instance in which we are able from 
d priori considerations to determine the relation of a cognition 
(in this case of pure practical reason) to the feeling of pleasure 
or displeasure. All the inclinations together (which can be 
reduced to a tolerable system, in which case their satisfaction 
is called happiness) constitute self -regard (solipsismus}. This is 
either the self-love that consists in an excessive fondness for 
oneself (philautia), or satisfaction with oneself (arrogantia). 
The former is called particularly selfishness ; the latter self- 
conceit. Pure practical reason only checks selfishness, looking 
on it as natural and active in us even prior to the moral law, so 
far as to limit it to the condition of agreement with this law, 
and then it is called rational self-love. But self-conceit reason 
strikes down altogether, since all claims to self-esteem which 
precede agreement with the moral law are vain and unjustifiable, 


for the certainty of a state of mind that coincides with this law 
is the first condition of personal worth (as we shall presently 
show more clearly), and prior to this conformity any pretension 
to worth is false and unlawful. Now the propensity to self- 
esteem is one of the inclinations which the moral law checks, 
inasmuch as that esteem rests only on morality. Therefore 
the moral law breaks down self-conceit. But as this law is 
something positive in itself, namely, the form of an intellectual 
causality, that is, of freedom, it must be an object of respect , 
for by opposing the subjective antagonism of the inclinations 
(198) it weakens self-conceit ; and since it even breaks down, 
that is, humiliates this conceit, it is an object of the highest 
respect, and consequently is the foundation of a positive feeling 
which is not of empirical origin, but is known a priori. There 
fore respect for the moral law is a feeling which is produced 
by an intellectual cause, and this feeling is the only one that 
we know quite d priori, and the necessity of which we can 

In the preceding chapter we have seen that everything that 
presents itself as an object of the will prior to the moral law is 
by that law itself, which is the supreme condition of practical 
reason, excluded from the determining principles of the will 
which we have called the unconditionally good ; and that the 
mere practical form which consists in the adaptation of the 
maxims to universal legislation first determines what is good in 
itself and absolutely, and is the basis of the maxims of a pure 
will, which alone is good in every respect. However, we find 
that our nature as sensible beings is such that the matter of 
desire (objects of inclination, whether of hope or fear) first 
presents itself to us ; and our pathologically affected self, 
although it is in its maxims quite unfit for universal legislation, 
yet, just as if it constituted our entire self, strives to put its 
pretensions forward first, and to have them acknowledged as the 
first and original. This propensity to make ourselves in the 
subjective determining principles of our choice serve as the 
objective determining principle of the will generally may be 
called self-love ; and if this pretends to be legislative as an 


unconditional practical principle, it may be called self-conceit. 
Now the moral law, which alone is truly objective (namely, in 
every respect), entirely excludes the influence of self-love on 
the supreme practical principle, and indefinitely checks the self- 
conceit that prescribes the subjective conditions of the former 
as laws (199). Now whatever checks our self-conceit in our 
own judgment humiliates ; therefore the moral law inevitably 
humbles every man when he compares with it the physical 
propensities of his nature. That, the idea of which as a deter 
mining prfa&iplc of oitr will humbles us in our self -consciousness, 
awakes respect for itself, so far as it is itself positive, and a 
determining principle. Therefore the moral law is even sub 
jectively a cause of respect. Now since everything that enters 
into self-love belongs to inclination, and all inclination rests 
on feelings, and consequently whatever checks all the feelings 
together in self-love has necessarily, by^ this very circumstance, 
an influence on feeling ; hence we comprehend how it is pos 
sible to perceive a priori that the moral can produce an 
effect on feeling, in that it excludes the inclinations and the 
propensity to make them the supreme practical condition, i.e. 
self-love, from all participation in the supreme legislation. 
This effect is on one side merely negative, but on the other side, 
relatively to the restricting principle of pure practical reason, it 
is positive. No special kind of feeling need be assumed for this 
under the name of a practical or moral feeling as antecedent to 
the moral law, and serving as its foundation. 

The negative effect on feeling (unpleasantness) is patho 
logical, like every influence on feeling, and like every feeling 
generally. But as an effect of the consciousness of the moral 
law, and consequently in relation to a supersensible cause, 
namely, the subject gf pure practical reason which is the 
supreme lawgiver, this feeling of a rational being affected by 
inclinations is called humiliation (intellectual self-depreciation) ; 
but with reference to the positive source of this humiliation, the 
law, it is respect for it. There is indeed no feeling for this 
law (200) ; but inasmuch as it removes the resistance out of the 
way, this removal of an obstacle is, in the judgment of reason, 


esteemed equivalent to a positive help to its causality. There 
fore this feeling may also be called a feeling of respect for the 
moral law, and for both reasons together a moral feeling. 

While the moral law, therefore, is a formal determining 
principle of action by practical pure reason, and is moreover a 
material though only objective determining principle of the 
objects of action as called good and evil, it is also a subjective 
determining principle, that is, a motive to this action, inasmuch 
as it has influence on the morality of the subject, and produces 
a , feeling conducive to the influence of the law on the will. 
There is here in the subject no antecedent feeling tending to 
morality. For this is impossible, since every feeling is sensible, 
and the motive of moral intention must be free from all sensible 
conditions. On the contrary, while the sensible feeling which is 
at the bottom of all our inclinations is the condition of that 
impression which we call respect, the cause that determines it 
lies in the pure practical reason ; and this impression therefore, 
on account of its origin, must be called, not a pathological but 
a practical effect. For by the fact that the conception of the 
moral law deprives self-love of its influence, and self-conceit of 
its illusion, it lessens the obstacle to pure practical reason, and 
produces the conception of the superiority of its objective law 
to the impulses of the sensibility ; and thus, by removing the 
counterpoise, it gives relatively greater weight to the law in the 
judgment of reason (in the case of a will affected by the afore 
said impulses). Thus the respect for the law is not a motive 
to morality, but is morality itself subjectively considered as a 
motive, inasmuch as pure practical reason (201), by rejecting all 
the rival pretensions of self-love, gives authority to the law 
which now alone has influence. Now it is to be observed that 
as respect is an effect on feeling, and therefore on the sensi 
bility, of a rational being, it presupposes this sensibility, and 
therefore also the finiteness of such beings on whom the moral 
law imposes respect ; and that respect for the law cannot be 
attributed to a supreme being, or to any being free from all 
sensibility, in whom, therefore, this sensibility cannot be an 
obstacle to practical reason. 


This feeling [sentiment] (which we call the moral feeling) 
is therefore produced simply by reason. It does not serve for 
the estimation of actions nor for the foundation of the objective 
moral law itself, but merely as a motive to make this of itself 
a maxim. But what name could we more suitably apply to this 
singular feeling which cannot be compared to any pathological 
feeling ? It is of such a peculiar kind that it seems to be at 
the disposal of reason only, and that pure practical reason. 

Respect applies always to persons only not to things. The 
latter may arouse inclination, and if they are animals (e.g. 
horses, dogs, &c.), even love or fear, like the sea, a volcano, a 
beast of prey ; but never respect. Something that comes nearer 
to this feeling is admiration, and this, as an affection, astonish 
ment, can apply to things also, e.g. lofty mountains, the mag 
nitude, number, and distance of the heavenly bodies, the 
strength and swiftness of many animals, &c. But all this is 
not respect. A man also may be an object to me of love, fear, 
or admiration, even to astonishment, and yet not be an object 
of respect. His jocose humour, his courage and strength, his 
power from the rank he has amongst others (202), may inspire 
me with sentiments of this kind, but still inner respect for him 
is wanting. Fontenelle says, " I bow before a great man, but 
my mind does not bow." I would add, before an humble 
plain man, in whom I perceive uprightness of character in a 
higher degree than I am conscious of in myself, my mind lows 
whether I choose it or not, and though I bear my head never 
so high that he may not forget my superior rank. Why is 
this ? Because his example exhibits to me a law that humbles 
my self-conceit when I compare it with my conduct : a law, 
the practicability of obedience to which I see proved by fact 
before my eyes. Now, I may even be conscious of a like degree 
of uprightness, and yet the respect remains. For since in man 
all good is defective, the law made visible by an example still 
humbles my pride, my standard being furnished by a man 
whose imperfections, whatever they may be, are not known to 
me as my own are, and who therefore appears to me in a more 
favourable light. Eespect is a tribute which we cannot refuse 

170 THE ANALYTIC OF [203] 

to merit ; whether we will or not ; we may indeed outwardly 
withhold it, but we cannot help feeling it inwardly. 

Kespect is so far from being a feeling of pleasure that we 
only reluctantly give way to it as regards a man. We try to 
find out something that may lighten the burden of it, some 
fault to compensate us for the humiliation which such an ex 
ample causes. Even the dead are not always secure from this 
criticism, especially if their example appears inimitable. Even 
the moral law itself in its solemn majesty is exposed to this 
endeavour to save oneself from yielding it respect (203). Can it 
be thought that it is for any other reason that we are so ready 
to reduce it to the level of our familiar inclination, or that it 
is for any other reason that we all take such trouble to make it 
out to be the chosen precept of our own interest well understood, 
but that we want to be free from the deterrent respect which shows 
us our own unworthiness with such severity ? Nevertheless, 
on the other hand, so little is there pain in it that if once one 
has laid aside self-conceit and allowed practical influence to 
that respect, he can never be satisfied with contemplating the 
majesty of this law, and the soul believes itself elevated in pro 
portion as it sees the holy law elevated above it and its frail 
nature. No doubt great talents and activity proportioned to 
them may also occasion respect or an analogous feeling. It is 
very proper to yield it to them, and then it appears as if this 
sentiment were the same thing as admiration. But if we look 
closer, we shall observe that it is always uncertain how much of 
the ability is due to native talent, and how much to diligence 
in cultivating it. Reason represents it to us as probably the 
fruit of cultivation, and therefore as meritorious, and this 
notably reduces our self-conceit, and either casts a reproach on 
us or urges us to follow such an example in the way that is 
suitable to us. This respect, then, which we -show to such a 
person (properly speaking, to the law that his example exhibits) 
is not mere admiration ; and this is confirmed also by the fact, 
that when the common run of admirers think they have 
learned from any source the badness of such a man s character 
(for instance, Voltaire s), they give up all respect for him ; 


whereas the true scholar still feels it at least with regard to 
his talents, because he is himself engaged in a business and a 
vocation (204) which make imitation of such a man in some 
degree a law. 

Kespect for the moral law is therefore the only and the 
undoubted moral motive, and this feeling is directed to no 
object, except on the ground of this law. The moral law first 
determines the will objectively and directly in the judgment 
of reason ; and freedom, whose causality can be determined only 
by the law, consists just in this, that it restricts all inclinations, 
and consequently self-esteem, by the condition of obedience to 
its pure law. This restriction now has an effect on feeling, and 
produces the impression of displeasure which can be known a 
priori from the moral law. Since it is so far only a negative 
effect which, arising from the influence of pure practical reason, 
checks the activity of the subject, so far as it is determined by 
inclinations, and hence checks the opinion of his personal worth 
(which, in the absence of agreement with the moral law, is 
reduced to nothing) ; hence, the effect of this law on feeling 
is merely humiliation. We can, therefore, perceive this d priori, 
but cannot know by it the force of the pure practical law as a 
motive, but only the resistance to motives of the sensibility. 
But since the same law is objectively, that is, in the conception 
of pure reason, an immediate principle of determination of the 
will, and consequently this humiliation takes place only rela 
tively to the purity of the law ; hence, the lowering of the pre 
tensions of moral self-esteem, that is, humiliation on the sensible 
side, is an elevation of the moral, i.e. practical, esteem for the 
law itself on the intellectual side ; in a word, it is respect for 
the law, and therefore, as its cause is intellectual, a positive 
feeling which can be known d priori. For whatever diminishes 
the obstacles to an activity furthers this activity itself (205). 
Now the recognition of the moral law is the consciousness of 
an activity of practical reason from objective principles, which 
only fails to reveal its effect in actions because subjective 
(pathological) causes hinder it. Kespect for the moral law, 
then, must be regarded as a positive, though indirect, effect of 

172 THE ANALYTIC OF [206] 

it on feeling, inasmuch as this respect 1 weakens the impeding 
influence of inclinations by humiliating self-esteem ; and hence 
also as a subjective principle of activity, that is, as a motive to 
obedience to the law, and as a principle of the maxims of a life 
conformable to it. From the notion of a motive arises that of 
an interest, which can never be attributed to any being unless 
it possesses reason, and which signifies a motive of the will in so 
far as it is conceived by the reason. Since in a morally good 
will the law itself must be the motive, the moral interest is a 
pure interest of practical reason alone, independent on sense. 
On the notion of an interest is based that of a maxim. This, 
therefore, is morally good only in case it rests simply on the 
interest taken in obedience to the law. All three notions, how 
ever, that of a motive, of an interest, and of a maxim, can be 
applied only to finite beings. For they all suppose a limita 
tion of the nature of the being, in that the subjective character 
of his choice does not of itself agree with the objective law of 
a, practical reason ; they suppose that the being requires to be 
impelled to action by something, because an internal obstacle 
opposes itself. Therefore they cannot be applied to the Divine 

There is something so singular in the unbounded esteem for 
the pure moral law, apart from all advantage, as it is presented 
for our obedience by practical reason, the voice of which makes 
even the boldest sinner tremble, and compels him to hide him 
self from it (206), that we cannot wonder if we find this influence 
of a mere intellectual idea on the feelings quite incomprehen 
sible to speculative reason, and have to be satisfied with seeing 
so much of this d priori, that such a feeling is inseparably con 
nected with the conception of the moral law in every finite 
rational being. If this feeling of respect were pathological, 
and therefore were a feeling of pleasure based on the inner 
sense, it would be in vain to try to discover a connexion of it 

1 ["Jener," in Rosenkranz text is an error. We must read either 
"jene," "this respect," or "jenes," " this feeling." Hartenstein adopts 
" jenes."] 


with any idea a priori. But [it 1 ] is a feeling that applies 
merely to what is practical, and depends on the conception of 
a law, simply as to its form, not on account of any object, and 
therefore cannot be reckoned either as pleasure or pain, and yet 
produces an interest in obedience to the law, which we call the 
moral interest, just as the capacity of taking such an interest in 
the law (or respect for the moral law itself) is properly the 
moral feeling [or sentiment]. 

The consciousness of a free submission of the will to the law, 
yet combined with an inevitable constraint put upon all incli 
nations, though only by our own reason, is respect for the law. 
The law that demands this respect and inspires it is clearly 
no other than the moral (for no other precludes all inclinations 
from exercising any direct influence on the will). An action 
which is objectively practical according to this law, to the 
exclusion of every determining principle of inclination, is duty, 
and this by reason of that exclusion includes in its concept 
practical obligation, that is, a determination to actions, however 
reluctantly they may be done. The feeling that arises from 
the consciousness of this obligation is not pathological, as 
would be a feeling produced by an object of the senses, but 
practical only, that is, it is made possible by a preceding (207) 
(objective) determination of the will and causality of the 
reason. As submission to the law, therefore, that is, as a com 
mand (announcing constraint for the sensibly affected subject), 
it contains in it no pleasure, but on the contrary, so far, pain 
in the action. On the other hand, however, as this constraint 
is exercised merely by the legislation of our own reason, it also 
contains something elevating, and this subjective effect on feel 
ing, inasmuch as pure practical reason is the sole cause of it, 
may be called in this respect self -approbation, since we recognize 
ourselves as determined thereto solely by the law without any 
interest, and are now conscious of a quite different interest 
subjectively produced thereby, and which is purely practical and 

1 [The original sentence is incomplete. I have completed it in what 
seerns the simplest way.] 

174 THE ANALYTIC OF [-208] 

free ; and our taking this interest in an action of duty is not 
suggested by any inclination, but is commanded and actually 
brought about by reason through the practical law ; whence 
this feeling obtains a special name, that of respect. 

The notion of duty, therefore, requires in the action, objec 
tively, agreement with the law, and, subjectively in its maxim, 
that respect for the law shall be the sole mode in which the 
will is determined thereby. And on this rests the distinction 
between the consciousness of having acted according to duty 
and/rowi duty, that is, from respect for the law. The former 
(legality] is possible even if inclinations have been the deter 
mining principles of the will ; but the latter (morality), moral 
worth, can be placed only in this, that the action is done from 
duty, that is, simply for the sake of the law. 1 

(203) It is of the greatest importance to attend with the 
utmost exactness in all moral judgments to the subjective 
principle of all maxims, that all the morality of actions may 
be placed in the necessity of acting from duty and from respect 
for the law, not from love and inclination for that which the 
actions are to produce. For men and all created rational beings 
moral necessity is constraint, that is obligation , and every action 
based on it is to be conceived as a duty, not as a proceeding 
previously pleasing, or likely to be pleasing to us of our own 
accord. As if indeed we could ever bring it about that with 
out respect for the law, which implies fear, or at least appre 
hension of transgression, we of ourselves, like the independent 
Deity, could ever come into possession of Jioliness of will by the 
coincidence of our will with the pure moral law becoming as it 
were part of our nature, never to be shaken (in which case the 

1 If we examine accurately the notion of respect for persons as it has 
been already laid down, we shall perceive that it always rests on the con 
sciousness of a duty which an example shows us, and that respect, there 
fore, can never have any but a moral ground, and that it is very good and 
even, in a psychological point of view, very useful for the knowledge of 
mankind, that whenever we use this expression we should attend to this 
secret and marvellous, yet often recurring, regard which men in their 
judgment pay to the moral law. 


law would cease to be a command for us, as we could never be 
tempted to be untrue to it). 

The moral law is in fact for the will of a perfect being a 
law of holiness, but for the will of every finite rational being a 
law of duty, of moral constraint, and of the determination of its 
actions by respect for this law and reverence for its duty. No 
other subjective principle must be assumed as a motive, else 
while the action might chance to be such as the law prescribes, 
yet as it does not proceed from duty, the intention, which is 
the thing properly in question in this legislation, is not moral. 

(209) It is a very beautiful thing to do good to men from 
love to them and from sympathetic good will, or to be just from 
love of order ; but this is not yet the true moral maxim of our 
conduct which is suitable to our position amongst rational beings 
as men, when we pretend with fanciful pride to set ourselves 
above the thought of duty, like volunteers, and, as if we were 
independent on the command, to want to do of our own good 
pleasure what we think we need no command to do. We stand 
under a discipline of reason, and in all our maxims must not 
forget our subjection to it, nor withdraw anything therefrom, 
or by an egotistic presumption diminish aught of the authority 
of the law (although our own reason gives it) so as to set the 
determining principle of our will, even though the law be con 
formed to, anywhere else but in the law itself and in respect 
for this law. Duty and obligation are the only names that we 
must give to our relation to the moral law. We are indeed 
legislative members of a moral kingdom rendered possible by 
freedom, and presented to us by reason as an object of respect ; 
but yet we are subjects in it, not the sovereign, and to mistake 
our inferior position as creatures, and presumptuously to reject 
the authority of the moral law, is already to revolt from it in 
spirit, even though the letter of it is fulfilled. 

With this agrees very well the possibility of such a com 
mand as : Love God above everything, and thy neighbour as thy 
self. 1 For as a command it requires respect for a law (210) 

1 This law is in striking contrast with the principle of private happiness 

176 THE ANALYTIC OF [21 1] 

which commands love and does not leave it to our own ar 
bitrary choice to make this our principle. Love to God, 
however, considered as an inclination (pathological love), is 
impossible, for he is not an object of the senses. The same 
affection towards men is possible no doubt, but cannot be com 
manded, for it is not in the power of any man to love anyone 
at command ; therefore it is only practical love that is meant in 
that pith of all laws. To love God means, in this sense, to like 
to do His commandments ; to love one s neighbour means to 
like to practise all duties towards him. But the command that 
makes this a rule cannot command us to have this disposition 
in actions conformed to duty, but only to endeavour after it. 
For a command to like to do a thing is in itself contradictory, 
because if we already know of ourselves what we are bound 
to do, and if further we are conscious of liking to do it, a com 
mand would be quite needless ; and if we do it not willingly, 
but only out of respect for the law, a command that makes this 
respect the motive of our maxim would directly counteract the 
disposition commanded. That law of all laws, therefore, like 
all the moral precepts of the Gospel, exhibits the moral disposition 
in all its perfection, in which, viewed as an Ideal of holiness, 
it is not attainable by any creature, but yet is the pattern 
which we should strive to approach, and in an uninterrupted 
but infinite progress become like to. In fact, if a rational 
creature could ever reach this point, that he thoroughly likes 
to do all moral laws, this would mean that there does not exist 
in him even the possibility of a desire that would tempt him 
to deviate from them; for to overcome such a desire always 
costs the subject some sacrifice, and therefore requires self- 
compulsion, that is, inward constraint to something that one 
does not quite like to do ; and no creature can ever reach this 
stage of moral disposition (211). For, being a creature, and 
therefore always dependent with respect to what he requires 

which some make the supreme principle of morality. This would be 
expressed thus : Love thyself above everything, and God and thy neighbour 
fur thine own nake. 


for complete satisfaction, he can never be quite free from 
desires and inclinations, and as these rest on physical causes, 
they can never of themselves coincide with the moral law, 1 the 
sources of which are quite different ; and therefore they make 
it necessary to found the mental disposition of one s maxims 
on moral obligation, not on ready inclination, but on respect, 
which demands obedience to the law, even though one may not 
like it ; not on love, which apprehends no inward reluctance 
of the will towards the law. Nevertheless, this latter, namely, 
love to the law (which would then cease to be a command, 
and then morality, which would have passed subjectively into 
holiness, would cease to be virtue), must be the constant though 
unattainable goal of his endeavours. For in the case of what 
we highly esteem, but yet (on account of the consciousness 
of our weakness) dread, the increased facility of satisfying it 
changes the most reverential awe into inclination, and respect 
into love : at least this would be the perfection of a disposition 
devoted to the law, if it were possible for a creature to attain it. 2 

1 [Compare Butler : "Though we should suppose it impossible for 
particular affections to be absolutely coincident with the moral principle, 
and consequently should allow that such creatures . . . would for ever 
remain defectible ; yet their danger of actually deviating from right may 
be almost infinitely lessened, and they fully fortified against what remains 
of it if that may be called danger against which there is an adequate 
effectual security." Analogy, Fitzgerald s Ed., p. 100.] 

[What renders this discussion not irrelevant is the fact that the 
German language, like the English, possesses but one word to express 
4>iAri , ayairnv, and tpav. The first, (piAeiV, expresses the love of affection. 
The general good-will due from man to man had no name in classical Greek ; 
it is described in one aspect of it by Aristotle as <f>t\ia &vfv Trd9ovs al roG 
ffTfpyfiv (Eth. Nic. iv. 65) ; elsewhere, however, he calls it simply <t>i\ia 
(viii. 11, 7). The verb ayawdu was used by the LXX in the precept quoted 
in the text, though elsewhere they employed it as = fyi/. But in the New 
Test, the verb, aud with it the noun aydinj (which is not found in classical 
writers), were appropriated to this state of mind. Aristotle, it may be 
observed, uses aya-nda, of love to one s own better part (ix. 8, 0). Epav 
does not occur in the New Test, at all. Butler s Sermons on Love of our 
Neighbour, and Love of God, may be usefully compared with these 
observations of Kant.] 


178 THE ANALYTIC OF [212] 

This reflection is intended not so much to clear up the 
evangelical command just cited, in order to prevent religious 
fanaticism in regard to love of God, but to define accurately 
the moral disposition with regard directly to our duties 
towards men, and to check, or if possible prevent, a merely moral 
fanaticism which infects many persons. The stage of morality 
on which man (and, as far as we can see, every rational creature) 
stands is respect for the moral law. The disposition that he 
ought to have in obeying this is to obey it from duty, not 
from spontaneous (212) inclination, or from an endeavour taken 
up from liking and unbidden ; and this proper moral condition 
in which he can always be is virtue, that is, moral disposition 
militant, and not holiness in the fancied possession of a perfect 
purity of the disposition of the will. It is nothing but moral 
fanaticism and exaggerated self-conceit that is infused into 
the mind by exhortation to actions as noble, sublime, and 
magnanimous, by which men are led into the delusion that it 
is not duty, that is, respect for the law, whose yoke (an easy 
yoke indeed, because reason itself imposes it on us) they must 
bear, whether they like it or not, that constitutes the deter 
mining principle of their actions, and which always humbles 
them while they obey it ; fancying that those actions are ex 
pected from them, not from duty, but as pure merit. For not 
only would they, in imitating such deeds from such a prin 
ciple, not have fulfilled the spifrit of the law in the least, 
which consists not in the legality of the action (without regard 
to principle), but in the subjection of the mind to the law ; not 
only do they make the motives pathological (seated in sympathy 
or self-love), not moral (in the law), but they produce in this 
way a vain, high-flying, fantastic way of thinking, flattering 
themselves with a spontaneous goodness of heart that needs 
neither spur nor bridle, for which no command is needed, and 
thereby forgetting their obligation, which they ought to think of 
rather than merit. Indeed actions of others which are done with 
great sacrifice, and merely for the sake of duty, may be praised 
as noble and sullime, but only so far as there are traces which 
suggest that they were done wholly out of respect for duty 


and not from excited feelings (213). If these, however, are set 
before anyone as examples to be imitated, respect for duty 
(which is the only true moral feeling) must be employed as 
the motive this severe holy precept which never allows our 
vain self-love to dally with pathological impulses (however- 
analogous they may be to morality), and to take a pride in 
meritorious worth. Now if we search we shall find for all 
actions that are worthy of praise a law of duty which com 
mands, and does not leave us to choose what may be agree 
able to our inclinations. This is the only way of representing 
things that can give a moral training to the soul, because it 
alone is capable of solid and accurately defined principles. 

If fanaticism in its most general sense is a deliberate over 
stepping of the limits of human reason, then moral fanaticism 
is such an overstepping of the bounds that practical pure reason 
sets to mankind, in that it forbids us to place the subjective 
determining principle of correct actions, that is, their moral 
motive, in anything but the law itself, or to place the disposition 
which is thereby brought into the maxims in anything but 
respect for this law, and hence commands us to take as the 
supreme vital principle of all morality in men the thought of 
duty, which strikes down all arrogance as well as vain self-love. 

If this is so, it is not only writers of romance or sentimental 
educators (although they may be zealous opponents of senti- 
mentalism), but sometimes even philosophers, nay, even the 
severest of all, the Stoics, that have brought in moral fanaticism 
instead of a sober but wise moral discipline, although the fana 
ticism of the latter was more heroic, that of the former of an 
insipid, effeminate character ; and we may, without hypocrisy, 
say of the moral teaching of the Gospel (214), that it first, by 
the purity of its moral principle, and at the same time by its 
suitability to the limitations of finite beings, brought all the 
good conduct of men under the discipline of a duty plainly set 
before their eyes, which does not permit them to indulge in 
dreams of imaginary moral perfections ; and that it also set the 
bounds of humility (that is, self-knowledge) to self-conceit as 
well as to self-love, both which are ready to mistake their limits. 


]80 THE ANALYTIC OF [215] 

Dvly ! Thou sublime anil mighty name that dost embrace 
nothing charming or insinuating, but requirest submission, and 
yet seekest not to move the will by threatening aught that 
would arouse natural aversion or terror, but merely boldest 
forth a law which of itself finds entrance into the mind, and 
yet gains reluctant reverence (though not always obedience), 
a law before which all inclinations are dumb, even though they 
secretly counter-work it ; what origin is there worthy of thee, 
and where is to be found the root of thy noble descent which 
proudly rejects all kindred with the inclinations ; a root to be 
derived from which is the indispensable condition of the only 
worth which men can give themselves ? 

It can be nothing less than a power which elevates man 
above himself (as a part of the world of sense), a power which 
connects him with an order of things that only the understand 
ing can conceive, with a world which at the same time commands 
the whole sensible world, and with it the empirically determin- 
able existence of man in time, as well as the sum-total of all 
ends (which totality alone suits such unconditional practical 
laws as the moral). This power is nothing but personality, that 
is, freedom and independence on the mechanism of nature, yet, 
regarded also as a faculty of a being which is subject to special 
laws, namely, pure practical laws given by its own reason (215) ; 
so that the person as belonging to the sensible world is subject 
to liis own personality as belonging to the intelligible [super 
sensible] world. It is, then, not to be wondered at that man, 
as belonging to both worlds, must regard his own nature in 
reference to its second and highest characteristic only with 
reverence, and its laws with the highest respect. 

On this origin are founded many expressions which designate 
the worth of objects according to moral ideas. The moral law 
is holy (inviolable). Man is indeed unholy enough; but lie must 
regard humanity in his own person as holy. In all creation 
everything one chooses, and over which one has any power, 
may be used merely as in eons , man alone, and with him every 
rational creature, is an cn-d in himself. By virtue of the auto 
nomy of his freedom he is the subject of the moral law, which 


is holy. Just for this reason every will, even every person s 
own individual will, in relation to itself, is restricted to the 
condition of agreement with the ajitonomy of the rational 
being, that is to say, that it is not to be subject to any purpose 
which cannot accord with a law which might arise from the 
will of the passive subject himself ; the latter is, therefore, 
never to be employed merely as means, but as itself also, 
concurrently, an end. We justly attribute this condition even 
to the Divine will, with regard to the rational beings in the 
world, which are His creatures, since it rests on their persona lit//, 
by which alone they are ends in themselves. 

This respect-inspiring idea of personality which sets before 
our eyes the sublimity of our nature (in its higher aspect), 
while at the same time it shows us the want of accord of our 
conduct with it, and thereby strikes down self-conceit, is even 
natural to the commonest reason, and easily observed (216). Has 
not every even moderately honourable man sometimes found 
that, where by an otherwise inoffensive lie he might either have 
withdrawn himself from an unpleasant business, or even have 
procured some advantage for a loved and well-deserving friend, 
he has avoided it solely lest he should despise himself secretly 
in his own eyes ? When an upright man is in the greatest 
distress, which he might have avoided if he could only have 
disregarded duty, is he not sustained by the consciousness that 
he has maintained humanity in its proper dignity in his own 
person and honoured it, that he has no reason to be ashamed of 
himself in his own sight, or to dread the inward glance of self- 
examination ? This consolation is not happiness, it is not even 
the smallest part of it, for no one would wish to have occasion 
for it, or would perhaps even desire a life in such circum 
stances. But he lives, and he cannot endure that he should be 
in his own eyes unworthy of life. This inward peace is there 
fore merely negative as regards what can make life pleasant ; it 
is, in fact, only the escaping the danger of sinking in personal 
worth, after everything else that is valuable has been lost. It 
is the effect of a respect for something quite different from life, 
something in comparison and contrast with which life with all 

182 THE ANALYTIC OF [218] 

its enjoyment has no value. He still lives only because it is 
his duty, not because be finds anything pleasant in life. 

Such is the nature of the true motive of pure practical 
reason ; it is no other than the pure moral law itself, inasmuch 
as it makes us conscious of the sublimity of our own super 
sensible existence, and subjectively (217) produces respect for 
their higher nature in men who are also conscious of their 
sensible existence and of the consequent dependence of their 
pathologically very susceptible nature. Now with this motive 
may be combined so many charms and satisfactions of life, that 
even on this account alone the most prudent choice of a rational 
Epicurean reflecting on the greatest advantage of life would 
declare itself on the side of moral conduct, and it may even be 
advisable to join this prospect of a cheerful enjoyment of life 
with that supreme motive which is already sufficient of itself ; 
but only as a counterpoise to the attractions which vice does not 
fail to exhibit on the opposite side, and not so as, even in the 
smallest degree, to place in this the proper moving power when 
duty is in question. For that would be just the same as to 
wish to taint the purity of the moral disposition in its source. 
The majesty of duty has nothing to do with enjoyment of life ; 
it has its special law and its special tribunal, and though the 
two should be never so well shaken together to be given well 
mixed, like medicine, to the sick soul, yet they will soon 
separate of themselves ; and if they do not, the former will not 
act ; and although physical life might gain somewhat in force, 
the moral life would fade away irrecoverably. 



By the critical examination of a science, or of a portion of it, 
which constitutes a system by itself, I understand the inquiry 
and proof why it must have this and no other systematic 
form (218), when we compare it with another system which is 
based on a similar faculty of knowledge. Now practical and 
speculative reason are based on the same faculty, so far as both 


are pure reason. Therefore the difference in their systematic 
form must be determined by the comparison of both, and the 
ground of this must be assigned. 

The Analytic of pure theoretic reason had to do with the 
knowledge of such objects as may have been given to the 
understanding, and was obliged therefore to begin from intuition, 
and consequently (as this is always sensible) from sensibility ; 
and only after that could advance to concepts (of the objects of 
this intuition), and could only end with principles after both 
these had preceded. On the contrary, since practical reason 
has not to do with objects so as to know them, but with its own 
faculty of realizing them (in accordance with the knowledge of 
them), that is, with a will which is a causality, inasmuch as 
reason contains its determining principle ; since consequently it 
has not to furnish an object of intuition, but as practical reason 
has to furnish only a law (because the notion of causality 
always inplies the reference to a law which determines the 
existence of the many in relation to one another) ; hence a 
critical examination of the Analytic of reason, if this is to be 
practical reason (and this is properly the problem), must begin 
with the possibility of practical principles a priori. Only after 
that can it proceed to concepts of the objects of a practical 
reason, namely, those of absolute good and evil, in order to 
assign them in accordance with those principles (for prior to 
those principles they cannot possibly be given as good and evil 
by any faculty of knowledge), and only then could the section 
be concluded with the last chapter, that, namely, which treats of 
the relation of the pure practical reason to the sensibility (219) and 
of its necessary influence thereon, which is a priori cognisable, 
that is, of the moral sentiment. Thus the Analytic of the prac 
tical pure reason has the whole extent of the conditions of its 
use in common with the theoretical, but in reverse order. The 
Analytic of pure theoretic reason was divided into transcen 
dental ^Esthetic and transcendental Logic, that of the practical 
reversely into Logic and ^Esthetic of pure practical reason (if 
I may, for the sake of analogy merely, use these designations, 
which are not quite suitable). This logic again was there 

184 THE ANALYTIC OF [220] 

divided into the Analytic of concepts and that of principles : 
here into that of principles and concepts. The ^Esthetic also 
had in the former cases two parts, on account of the two kinds 
of sensible intuition ; here the sensibility is not considered as 
a capacity of intuition at all, but merely as feeling (which can 
be a subjective ground of desire), and in regard to it pure 
practical reason admits no further division. 

It is also easy to see the reason why this division into two 
parts with its subdivision was not actually adopted here (as one 
might have been induced to attempt by the example of the 
former critique). For since it is pure reason that is here con 
sidered in its practical use, and consequently as proceeding from 
d priori principles, and not from empirical principles of deter 
mination, hence the division of the analytic of pure practical 
reason must resemble that of a syllogism, namely, proceeding 
from the universal in the major premiss (the moral principle), 
through a minor premiss containing a subsumption of possible 
actions (as good or evil) under the former, to the conclusion, 
namely, the subjective determination of the will (an interest in 
the possible practical good, and in the maxim founded on it). 
He who has been able to convince himself of the truth of the 
positions occurring in the Analytic (220) will take pleasure in 
such comparisons ; for they justly suggest the expectation that 
we may perhaps some day be able to discern the unity of the 
whole faculty of reason (theoretical as well as practical), and be 
able to derive all from one principle, which is what human 
reason inevitably demands, as it finds complete satisfaction only 
in a perfectly systematic unity of its knowledge. 

If now we consider also the contents of the knowledge that 
we can have of a pure practical reason, and by means of it, as 
shown by the Analytic, we find, along with a remarkable 
analogy between it and the theoretical, no less remarkable 
differences. As regards the theoretical, the faculty of a pure 
rational coynition a priori could be easily and evidently proved 
by examples from sciences (in which, as they put their prin 
ciples to the test in so many ways by methodical use, there is 
not so much reason as in common knowledge to fear a secret 


mixture of empirical principles of cognition). But, that pure 
reason without the admixture of any empirical principle is 
practical of itself, this could only be shown from the commonest 
practical use of reason, by verifying the fact, that every man s 
natural reason acknowledges the supreme practical principle 
as the supreme law of his will a law completely a priori, and 
not depending on any sensible data. It was necessary first 
to establish and verify the purity of its origin, even in the judg 
ment of this common reason, before science could take it in hand 
to make use of it, as a fact, that is, prior to all disputation about 
its possibility, and all the consequences that may be drawn from 
it. But this circumstance may be readily explained from what 
has just been said (221); because practical pure reason must 
necessarily begin with principles, which therefore must be the 
first data, the foundation of all science, and cannot be derived 
from it. It was possible to effect this verification of moral 
principles as principles of a pure reason quite well, and with 
sufficient certainty, by a single appeal to the judgment of com 
mon sense, for this reason, that anything empirical which might 
slip into our maxims as a determining principle of the will can 
be detected at once by the feeling of pleasure or pain which 
necessarily attaches to it as exciting desire ; whereas pure prac 
tical reason positively refuses to admit this feeling into its prin 
ciple as a condition. The heterogeneity of the determining 
principles (the empirical and rational) is clearly detected by 
this resistance of a practically legislating reason against every 
admixture of inclination, and by a peculiar kind of sentiment, 
which, however, does not precede the legislation of the practical 
reason, but, on the contrary, is produced by this as a constraint, 
namely, by the feeling of a respect such as no man has for incli 
nations of whatever kind but for the law only ; and it is detected 
in so marked and prominent a manner that even the most unin- 
structed cannot fail to see at once in an example presented to 
liim, that empirical principles of volition may indeed urge him 
to follow their attractions, but that he can never be expected to 
obey anything but the pure practical law of reason alone. 

The. distinction between the doctrine of happiness and the 

186 THE ANALYTIC OF [223] 

doctrine of morality {ethics], in the former of which empirical 
principles constitute the entire foundation, while in the second 
they do not form the smallest part of it, is the first and most 
important office of the analytic of pure practical reason ; and 
it^must proceed in it with as much exactness (222) and, so to 
speak, scrupulousness as any geometer in his work. The philo 
sopher, however, has greater difficulties to contend with here 
(as always in rational cognition by means of concepts merely 
without construction), because he cannot take any intuition as 
a foundation (for a pure noumenon). He has, however, this 
advantage that, like the chemist, he can at any time make an 
experiment with every man s practical reason for the purpose of 
distinguishing the moral (pure) principle of determination from 
the empirical, namely, by adding the moral law (as a determin 
ing principle) to the empirically affected will (e.g. that of the 
man who would be ready to lie because he can gain something 
thereby). It is as"if the analyst added alkali to a solution of 
lime in hydrochloric acid, the acid at once forsakes the lime, 
combines with the alkali, and the lime is precipitated. Just in 
the same way, if to a man who is otherwise honest (or who for 
this occasion places himself only in thought in the position of 
an honest man), we present the moral law by which he recog 
nizes the worthlessness of the liar, his practical reason (in form 
ing a judgment of what ought to be done) at once forsakes the 
advantage, combines with that which maintains in him respect 
for his own person (truthfulness), and the advantage after it has 
been separated and washed from every particle of reason (which 
is altogether on the side of duty) is easily weighed by everyone, 
so that it can enter into combination with reason in other cases, 
only not where it could be opposed to the moral law, which 
reason never forsakes, but most closely unites itself with. 

But it does not follow that this distinction between the 
principle of happiness and that of morality is an opposition 
between them, and pure practical reason does riot require that we 
should renounce all claim to happiness, but only that the moment 
duty is in question we should take no account of happiness (223). 
It may even in certain respects be a duty to provide for happi- 


ness ; partly, because (including skill, wealth, riches) it contains 
means for the fulfilment of our duty ; partly, because the absence 
of it (e.g. poverty) implies temptation to transgress our duty. 
But it can never be an immediate duty to promote our happiness, 
still less can it be the principle of all duty. Now, as all deter 
mining principles of the will, except the law of pure practical 
reason alone (the moral law) are all empirical, and therefore, as 
such belong to the principle of happiness, they must all be kept 
apart from the supreme principle of morality, and never be in 
corporated with it as a condition ; since this would be to destroy 
all moral worth just as much as any empirical admixture with 
geometrical principles would destroy the certainty of mathema 
tical evidence, which in Plato s opinion is the most excellent 
thing in mathematics, even surpassing their utility. 

Instead, however, of the Deduction of the supreme principle 
of pure practical reason, that is, the explanation of the possi 
bility of such a knowledge d priori, the utmost we were able to 
do was to show that if we saw the possibility of the freedom of 
an efficient cause, we should also see not merely the possibility, 
but even the necessity of the moral law as the supreme practical 
law of rational beings, to whom we attribute freedom of cau 
sality of their will; because both concepts are so inseparably 
united, that we might define practical freedom as independence 
of the will on anything but the moral law. But we cannot 
perceive the possibility of the freedom of an efficient cause, 
especially in the world of sense ; we are fortunate if only we 
can be sufficiently assured that there is no proof of its impos 
sibility, and are now by the moral law which postulates it com 
pelled (224), and therefore authorized to assume it. However, 
there are still many who think that they can explain this free 
dom on empirical principles, like any other physical faculty, 
and treat it as a psychological property, the explanation of which 
only requires a more exact study of the nature of the, soul and of 
the motives of the will, and not as a transcendental predicate of 
the causality of a being that belongs to the world of sense (which 
is really the point). They thus deprive us of the grand revela 
tion which we obtain through practical reason by means of the 

188 THE ANALYTIC OF [225] 

moral law, the revelation, namely, of a supersensible world by 
the realization of the otherwise transcendent concept of freedom, 
and by this deprive us also of the moral law itself, which admits 
no empirical principle of determination. Therefore it will be 
necessary to add something here as a protection .against this 
delusion, and to exhibit empiricism in its naked superficiality. 

The notion of causality as physical necessity, in opposition to 
the same notion as freedom, concerns only the existence of things 
so far as it is detcnninoble in time, and, consequently, as pheno 
mena, in opposition to their causality as things in themselves. 
Now if we take the attributes of existence of things in time for 
attributes of things in themselves (which is the common view), 
then it is impossible to reconcile the necessity of the causal rela 
tion with freedom ; they are contradictory. For from the former 
it follows that every event, and consequently every action that 
takes place at a certain point of time, is a necessary result of 
what existed in time preceding. Now as time past is no longer 
in my power, hence every action that I perform must be the 
necessary result of certain determining grounds which arc not in 
my power, that is, at the moment in w r hich I am acting I am 
never free (225). Nay, even if I assume that my whole exis 
tence is independent on any foreign cause (for instance, God), 
so that the determining principles of my causality, and even of 
my whole existence, were not outside myself, yet this would not 
in the least transform that physical necessity into freedom. For 
at every moment of time I am still under the necessity of being 
determined to action by that which is not in my power, and the 
series of events infinite a partc priori which I only continue 
according to a pre-determined order, and could never begin of 
myself, would be a continuous physical chain, and therefore my 
causality would never be freedom. 

If, then, we would attribute freedom to a being whose exis 
tence is determined in time, we cannot except him from the law 
of necessity as to all events in his existence, and consequently 
as to his actions also ; for that would be to hand him over to blind 
chance. Now as this law inevitably applies to all the causality 
of things, so far as their existence is determinable in time, it 


follows that if this were the mode in which we had also to 
conceive the existence of these things in themselves, freedom must 
be rejected as a vain and impossible conception. Consequently, 
if we would still save it, no other way remains but to consider 
that the existence of a thing, so far as it is determinable in 
time, and therefore its causality, according to the law of physical 
necessity, belong to appearance, and to attribute freedom to the 
same being as a thing in itself. This is certainly inevitable, if 
we would retain both these contradictory concepts together ; 
but in application when we try to explain their combination 
in one and the same action, great difficulties present themselves 
which seem to render such a combination impracticable. 

(226) When I say of a man who commits a theft that, by 
the physical law of causality, this deed is a necessary result of 
the determining causes in preceding time, then it was impossible 
that it could not have happened ; how then can the judgment, 
according to the moral law, make any change, and suppose 
that it could have been omitted, because the law says that it 
ought to have been omitted : that is, how can a man be called 
quite free at the same moment, and with respect to the same 
action in which he is subject to an inevitable physical necessity ? 
Some try to evade this by saying that the causes that determine 
his causality are of such a kind as to agree with a comparative 
notion of freedom. According to this, that is sometimes called 
a free effect, the determining physical cause of which lies within 
in the acting thing itself, e.g. that which a projectile performs 
when it is in free motion, in which case we use the word " free 
dom," because while it is in flight it is not urged by anything 
external ; or as we call the motion of a clock a free motion, 
because it moves its hands itself, which therefore do not require 
to be pushed by external force ; so although the actions of man 
are necessarily determined by causes which precede in time, we 
yet call them free, because these causes are ideas produced by 
our own faculties, whereby desires are evoked on occasion of 
circumstances, and hence actions are wrought according to our 
own pleasure. This is a wretched subterfuge with which some 
persons still let themselves be put pff, and so think they have 

190 THE ANALYTIC OF [228] 

solved, with a petty word-jugglery, that difficult problem, at the 
solution of which centuries have laboured in vain, and which can 
therefore scarcely be found so completely on the surface. In 
fact, in the question about the freedom which must be the 
foundation of all moral laws and the consequent responsibility 
(227), it does not matter whether the principles which necessarily 
determine causality by a physical law reside within the subject 
or without him, or in the former case whether these principles 
are instinctive or are conceived by reason, if, as is admitted by 
these men themselves, these determining ideas have the ground 
of their existence in time and in the antecedent state, and this 
again in an antecedent, &c. Then it matters not that these 
are internal ; it matters not that they have a psychological 
and not a mechanical causality, that is, produce actions by 
means of ideas, and not by bodily movements ; they are still 
determining principles of the causality of a being whose existence 
is determinable in time, and therefore under the necessitation 
of conditions of past time, which therefore, when the subject 
has to act, are no longer in his power. This may imply psycho 
logical freedom (if we choose to apply this term to a merely 
internal chain of ideas in the mind), but it involves physical 
necessity, and therefore leaves no room for transcendental 
freedom, which must be conceived as independence on every 
thing empirical, and, consequently, on nature generally, whether 
it is an object of the internal sense considered in time only, or 
of the external in time and space. Without this freedom 
(in the latter and true sense), which alone is practical a priori, 
no moral law and no moral imputation are possible. Just for 
this reason the necessity of events in time, according to the 
physical law of causality, may be called the mechanism of 
nature, although we do not mean by this that things which 
are subject to it must be really material machines. We look 
here only to the necessity of the connexion of events iu a time- 
series as it is developed according to the physical law, whether 
the subject in which (223) this development takes place is called 
automaton materiale when the mechanical being is moved by 
matter, or with Leibnitz spirituale when it is impelled by 


ideas ; and if the freedom of our will were no other than the 
latter (say the psychological and comparative, not also transcen 
dental, that is, absolute), then it would at bottom be nothing 
better than the freedom of a turnspit, which, when once it is 
wound up, accomplishes its motions of itself. 

Now, in order to remove in the supposed case the apparent 
contradiction between freedom and the mechanism of nature in 
one and the same action, we must remember what was said in 
the Critique of Pure Eeason, or what follows therefrom, viz. 
that the necessity of nature, which cannot co-exist with the 
freedom of the subject, appertains only to the attributes of the 
thing that is subject to time-conditions, consequently only to 
those 1 of the acting subject as a phenomenon ; that therefore in 
this respect the determining principles of every action of the 
same reside in what belongs to past time, and is no longer in his 
power (in which must be included his own past actions and the 
character that these may determine for him in his own eyes as 
a phenomenon). But the very same subject being on the other 
side conscious of himself as a thing in himself, considers his 
existence also in so far as it is not subject to time- conditions, and 
regards himself as only determinable by laws which he gives 
himself through reason ; and in this his existence nothing is 
antecedent to the determination of his will, but every action, 
and in general every modification of his existence, varying 
according to his internal sense, even the whole series of his 
existence as a sensible being, is in the consciousness of his 
supersensible existence nothing but the result, and never to 
be regarded as the determining principle, of his causality as 
a noumenon. In this view now the rational being can justly 
say of every unlawful action that he performs (220), that he 
could very well have left it undone ; although as appearance 
it is sufficiently determined in the past, and in this respect is 
absolutely necessary; for it, with all the past which deter 
mines it, belongs to the one single phenomenon of his character 
which he makes for himself, in consequence of which he 

1 [Read "denen," not "dem."] 

192 THE ANALYTIC OF [230] 

imputes the causality of those appearances to himself as a cause 
independent on sensibility. 

With this agree perfectly the judicial sentences of that 
wonderful faculty in us which we call conscience. 1 A man 
may use as much art as he likes in order to paint to himself an 
unlawful act that he remembers, as an unintentional error, a 
mere oversight, such as one can never altogether avoid, and 
therefore as something in which he was carried away by the 
stream of physical necessity, and thus to make himself out 
innocent, yet he finds that the advocate who speaks in his 
favour can by no means silence the accuser within, if only he 
is conscious that at the time when he did this wrong he was in 
his senses, that is, in possession of his freedom ; and, neverthe 
less, he accounts for his error from some bad habits, which by 
gradual neglect of attention he has allowed to grow upon him 
to such a degree that he can regard his error as its natural 
consequence, although this cannot protect him from the blame 
and reproach which he casts upon himself. This is also the 
ground of repentance for a long past action at every recollection 
of it ; a painful feeling produced by the moral, sentiment, and 
which is practically void in so far as it cannot serve to undo 
what has been done. (Hence Priestley, as a true and consistent 
fatalist, declares it absurd, and he deserves to be commended 
for this candour more than those who, while they maintain 
the mechanism of the will in fact, and its freedom in words 
only (230), yet wish it to be thought that they include it in 
their system of compromise, although they do not explain the 
possibility of such moral imputation.) But the pain is quite 
legitimate, because when the law of our intelligible [super 
sensible] existence (the moral law) is in question, reason 
recognizes no distinction of time, and only asks whether 
the event belongs to me, as my act, and then always morally 
connects the same feeling with it, whether it has happened 
just now or long ago. For in reference to the supersensible 
consciousness of its existence (i.e. freedom) the life of sense is 

1 [See note on Conscience.] 


but a single phenomenon, which, inasmuch as it contains 
merely manifestations of the mental disposition with regard 
to the moral law (i.e. of the character), must be judged not 
according to the physical necessity that belongs to it as phe 
nomenon, but according to the absolute spontaneity of freedom. 
It may therefore be admitted that if it were possible to have so 
profound an insight into a man s mental character as shown by 
internal as well as external actions, as to know all its motives, 
even the smallest, and likewise all the external occasions that 
can influence them, we could calculate a man s conduct for the 
future with as great certainty as a lunar or solar eclipse ; and 
nevertheless we may maintain that the man is free. In fact, if 
we were capable of a further glance, namely, an intellectual 
intuition of the same subject (which indeed is not granted to 
us, and instead of it we have only the rational concept), then 
we should perceive that this whole chain of appearances in 
regard to all that concerns the moral laws depends on the 
spontaneity of the subject as a thing in itself, of the determina 
tion of which no physical explanation can be given. In default 
of this intuition the moral law assures us of this distinction 
between the relation of our actions (231) as appearance to our 
sensible nature, and the relation of this sensible nature to the 
supersensible substratum in us. In this view, which is natural 
to our reason, though inexplicable, we can also justify some 
judgments which we passed with all conscientiousness, and 
which yet at first sight seem quite opposed to all equity. There 
are cases in which men, even with the same education which has 
been profitable to others, yet show such early depravity, and 
so continue to progress in it to years of manhood, that they are 
thought to be born villains, and their character altogether 
incapable of improvement ; and nevertheless they are judged 
for what they do or leave undone, they are reproached for their 
faults as guilty ; nay, they themselves (the children) regard 
these reproaches as well founded, exactly as if in spite of the 
hopeless natural quality of mind ascribed to them, they re 
mained just as responsible as any other man. This could not 
happen if we did not suppose that whatever springs from a, 

194 THE ANALYTIC OF [232] 

man s choice (as every action intentionally performed undoubt 
edly does) has as its foundation a free causality, which from 
early youth expresses its character in its manifestations (i.e. 
actions). These, on account of the uniformity of conduct, 
exhibit a natural connexion, which, however, does not make the 
vicious quality of the will necessary, but, on the contrary, is the 
consequence of the evil principles voluntarily adopted and un 
changeable, which only make it so much the more culpable and 
deserving of punishment. There still remains a difficulty in 
the combination of freedom with the mechanism of nature in a 
being belonging to the world of sense : a difficulty which, even 
after all the foregoing is admitted, threatens freedom with com 
plete destruction (232). But with this danger there is also a 
circumstance that offers hope of an issue still favourable to 
freedom, namely, that the same difficulty presses much more 
strongly (in fact, as we shall presently see, presses only) on the 
system that holds the existence determinable in time and space 
to be the existence of things in themselves ; it does not there 
fore oblige us to give up 1 our capital supposition of the ideality 
of time as a mere form of sensible intuition, and consequently 
as a mere manner of representation which is proper to the 
subject as belonging to the world of sense ; and therefore it 
only requires that this view be reconciled with this idea [of 

The difficulty is as follows : Even if it is admitted that the 
supersensible subject can be free with respect to a given action, 
although as a subject also belonging to the world of sense, he is 
under mechanical conditions with respect to the same action ; 
still, as soon as we allow that God as universal first cause is also 
the cause of the existence of substance (a proposition which can 
never be given up without at the same time giving up the 
notion of God as the Being of all beings, and therewith giving 
up His all-sufficiency, on which everything in theology depends), 
it seerns as if we must admit that a man s actions have their 
determining principle in something 1 chick is wholly out of his 

[Reading " aufeugebeii. ] 


power, namely, in the causality of a Supreme Being distinct 
from himself, and on whom his own existence and the whole 
determination of his causality are absolutely dependent. In 
point of fact, if a man s actions as belonging to his modifications 
in time were not merely modifications of him as appearance, 
but as a thing in itself, freedom could not be saved. Man 
would be a marionette or an automaton, like Vaucanson s, 1 
prepared and wound up by the Supreme Artist. Self-conscious 
ness would indeed make him a thinking automaton ; but the 
consciousness of his own spontaneity would be mere delusion if 
this were mistaken for freedom (233), and it would deserve this 
name only in a comparative sense, since, although the proximate 
determining causes of its motion and a long series of their 
determining causes are internal, yet the last and highest is 
found in a foreign land. Therefore I do not see how those 
who still insist on regarding time and space as attributes 
belonging to the existence of things inthemselves, can avoid 
admitting the fatality of actions ; or if (like the otherwise acute 
Mendelssohn 2 ) they allow them to be conditions necessarily 
belonging to the existence of finite and derived beings, but not 
to that of the infinite Supreme Being, I do not see on what 
ground they can justify such a distinction, or, indeed, how they 
can avoid the contradiction that meets them, when they hold 
that existence in time is an attribute necessarily belonging to 
finite things in themselves, whereas God is the cause of this 
existence, but cannot be the cause of time (or space) itself (since 
this must [on this hypothesis] be presupposed as a necessary 

1 [Vaucanson constructed an automaton nute-player which imitated 
accurately the movements and the effects of a genuine performer, and 
subsequently a mechanical duck which swam, dived, quacked, took barley 
from the hand, ate, drank, digested, dressed its wings, &c., quite natu 
rally. This was exhibited in Paris in 1741. These automata are described 
by D Alembert in the Eticyclopedie, Arts. Audroide and Automata : cf. 
also Condorcet, Eloyes, torn, i., p. 643, ed. 1847.] 

- [Moses Mendelssohn, a distinguished philosopher, grandfather of the 
musical composer. He is said to have been the prototype of Lessing s 
Nathan der Weise.~\ 



d priori condition of the existence of things) ; and consequently 
as regards the existence of these things His causality must be 
subject to conditions, and even to the condition of time ; and 
this would inevitably bring in everything contradictory to the 
notions of His infinity and independence. On the other hand, 
it is quite easy for us to draw the distinction between the 
attribute of the divine existence of being independent on all 
time-conditions, and that of a being of the world of sense, the 
distinction being that between the existence of a being in itself 
and that of a thing in appearance. Hence, if this ideality of 
time and space is not adopted, nothing remains but Spinozism, 
in which space and time are essential attributes of the Supreme 
Being Himself, and the things dependent on Him (ourselves, 
therefore, included] are not substances, but merely accidents 
inhering in Him ; since, if these things as His effects (234) exist 
in time only, this being the condition of their existence in them 
selves, then the actions of these beings must be simply His 
actions which He performs in some place and time. Thus, 
Spinozism, in spite of the absurdity of its fundamental idea, 
argues more consistently than the creation theory can, when 
beings assumed to be substances, and beings in themselves 
existing in time, are regarded as effects of a Supreme Cause, and 
yet as not [belonging] to Him and His action, but as separate 

The above-mentioned difficulty is resolved briefly and clearly 
as follows : If existence in time is a mere sensible mode of 
representation belonging to thinking beings in the world, and 
consequently does not apply to them as things in themselves, 
then the creation of these beings is a creation of things in them 
selves, since the notion of creation does not belong to the 
sensible form of representation of existence or to causality, but 
can only be referred to noumena. Consequently, when I say of 
beings in the world of sense that they are created, I so far 
regard them as noumena. As it would be a contradiction, there 
fore, to say that God is a creator of appearances, so also it is a 
contradiction to say that as creator He is the cause of actions in 
the world of sense, and therefore as appearances, although He 


is the cause of the existence of the acting beings (which are 
noumena). If now it is possible to affirm freedom in spite of 
the natural mechanism of actions as appearances (by regarding 
existence in time as something that belongs only to appearances, 
not to things in themselves), then the circumstance that the 
acting beings are creatures cannot make the slightest difference, 
since creation concerns their supersensible and not their sensible 
existence, and therefore cannot be regarded as the determining 
principle of the appearances. It would be quite different if the 
beings in the world as things in themselves (235) existed in time, 
since in that case the creator of substance would be at the same 
time the author of the whole mechanism of this substance. 

Of so great importance is the separation of time (as well as 
space) from the existence of things in themselves which was 
effected in the Critique of the Pure Speculative Keason. 

It may be said that the solution here proposed involves 
great difficulty in itself, and is scarcely susceptible of a lucid 
exposition. But is any other solution that has been attempted, 
or that may be attempted, easier and more intelligible ? Rather 
might we say that the dogmatic teachers of metaphysics have 
shown more shrewdness than candour in keeping this difficult 
point out of sight as much as possible, in the hope that if they 
said nothing about it, probably no one would think of it. If 
science is to be advanced, all difficulties must be laid open, and 
we must even search for those that are hidden, for every diffi 
culty calls forth a remedy, which cannot be discovered without 
science gaining either in extent or in exactness ; and thus even 
obstacles become means of increasing the thoroughness of science. 
On the other hand, if the difficulties are intentionally concealed, 
or merely removed by palliatives, then sooner or later they burst 
out into incurable mischiefs, which bring science to ruin in an 
absolute scepticism. 

Since it is, properly speaking, the notion of freedom alone 
amongst all the ideas of pure speculative reason that so greatly 
enlarges our knowledge in the sphere of the supersensible (230), 
though only of our practical knowledge, I ask myself why it 

198 THE ANALYTIC OF [236] 

exclusively possesses so great fertility, whereas the others only 
designate the vacant space for possible beings of the pure under 
standing, but are unable by any means to define the concept of 
them. I presently find that as I cannot think anything without 
a category, I must first look for a category for the Rational Idea 
of freedom with which I am now concerned ; and this is the 
category of causality ; and although freedom, a concept of the 
reason, being a transcendent concept, cannot have any intuition 
corresponding to it, yet the concept of the understanding for the 
synthesis of which the former 1 demands the unconditioned 
(namely, the concept of causality) must have a sensible intuition 
given, by which first its objective reality is assured. Now, the 
categories are all divided into two classes the mathematical, 
which concern the unity of synthesis in the conception of 
objects, and the dynamical, which refer to the unity of synthesis 
in the conception of the existence of objects. The former (those 
of magnitude and quality) always contain a synthesis of the 
homogeneous ; and it is not possible to find in this the uncon 
ditioned antecedent to what is given in sensible intuition as 
conditioned in space and time, as this would itself have to 
belong to space and time, and therefore be again still con 
ditioned. 2 Whence it resulted in the Dialectic of Pure Theoretic 
Reason that the opposite methods of attaining the uncon 
ditioned and the totality of the conditions were both wrong. 
The categories of the second class (those of causality and of the 
necessity of a thing) did not require this homogeneity (of the 
conditioned and the condition in synthesis), since here what we 
have to explain is not how the intuition is compounded from a 

[The original is somewhat ambiguous ; it has been suggested that "the 
former" refers to the Understanding (" Verstand " in " Verstandes- 
begviff "). I am satisfied that it refers to " Vernunftbegriff," for it is not the 
Understanding, but the Reason that seeks the unconditioned. Compare 
Kritik der R.V., p. 2(52 (326). "The transcendental concept of the reason 
always aims at absolute totality in the synthesis of the conditions; and never 
rests except in the absolutely unconditioned." (Meiklejohn, p. 228).] 

2 [Rosenkranz erroneously reads "unbedingt," "unconditioned"; and 
" musste " for "miisste."] 


manifold in it, but only how the existence of the conditioned 
object corresponding to it is added to the existence of the 
condition (237) (added, namely, in the understanding as con 
nected therewith) ; and in that case it was allowable to suppose 
in the supersensible world the unconditioned antecedent to the 
altogether conditioned in the world of sense (both as regards 
the causal connexion and the contingent existence of things them 
selves), although this unconditioned remained indeterminate, 
and to make the synthesis transcendent. Hence, it was found 
in the Dialectic of the Pure Speculative Beason that the two 
apparently opposite methods of obtaining for the conditioned 
the unconditioned were not really contradictory, e.g. in the 
synthesis of causality to conceive for the conditioned in the 
series of causes and effects of the sensible world, a causality 
which has no sensible condition, and that the same action which, 
as belonging to the world of sense, is always sensibly con 
ditioned, that is, mechanically necessary, yet at the same time 
may be derived from a causality not sensibly conditioned 
being the causality of the acting being as belonging to the 
supersensible world and may consequently be conceived as 
free. Now, the only point in question was to change this may 
be into is ; that is, that we should be able to show in an actual 
case, as it were by a fact, that certain actions imply -such 
a causality (namely, the intellectual, sensibly unconditioned], 
whether they are actual or only commanded, that is, objectively 
necessary in a practical sense. "We could not hope to find this 
connexion in actions actually given in experience as events of 
the sensible world, since causality with freedom must always be 
sought outside the world of sense in the world of intelligence. 
But things of sense are the only things offered to our perception 
and observation. Hence, nothing remained but to find an 
incontestable objective principle of causality which excludes all 
sensible conditions : that is, a principle in which reason does not 
appeal further to something else as a determining ground of its 
causality (238), but contains this determining ground itself by 
means of that principle, and in which therefore it is itself 
as pure reason practical. Now, this principle had not to be 


searched for or discovered ; it had long been in the reason of all 
men, and incorporated in their nature, and is the principle of 
morality. Therefore, that unconditioned causality, with the 
faculty of it, namely, freedom, is no longer merely indefinitely 
and problematically thought (this speculative reason could prove 
to be feasible), but is even as regards the law of its causality 
definitely and assertorially known ; and with it the fact that a 
being (I myself) belonging to the world of sense, belongs also 
to the supersensible world, this is also positively known, and 
thus the reality of the supersensible world is established, and in 
practical respects definitely given, and this definiteness, which 
for theoretical purposes would be transcendent, is for practical 
purposes immanent. We could not, however, make a similar 
step as regards the second dynamical idea, namely, that of a 
necessary being. We could not rise to it from the sensible world 
without the aid of the first dynamical idea. For if we at 
tempted to do so, we should have ventured to leave at a bound 
all that is given to us, and to leap to that of which nothing is 
given us that can help us to effect the connexion of such a 
supersensible being with the world of sense (since the necessary 
being would have to be known as given owtside. ourselves). On 
the other hand, it is now obvious that this connexion is quite 
possible in relation to our own subject, inasmuch as I know 
myself to be on the one side as an intelligible [supersensible] 
being determined by the moral law (by means of freedom), and 
on the other side as acting in the world of sense. It is the 
concept of freedom alone that enables us to find the uncon 
ditioned and intelligible [supersensible] for the conditioned 
and sensible without going out of ourselves (239). For it is our 
own reason that by means of the supreme and unconditional 
practical law knows that itself and the being that is conscious 
of this law (our own person) belongs to the pure world of under 
standing, and moreover defines the manner in which, as such, 
it can be active. In this way it can be understood why in the 
whole faculty of reason it is the practical reason only that can 
help us to pass beyond the world pf sense, and give us know 
ledge of a supersensible order and connexion, which, however, 


for this very reason cannot be extended further than is necessary 
for pure practical purposes. 

Let me be permitted on this occasion to make one more 
remark, namely, that every step that we make with pure reason, 
even in the practical sphere where no attention is paid to subtle 
speculation, nevertheless accords with all the material points of 
the Critique of the Theoretical Keason as closely and directly as 
if each step had been thought out with deliberate purpose to 
establish this confirmation. Such a thorough agreement, wholly 
unsought for, and quite obvious (as anyone can convince him 
self, if he will only carry moral inquiries up to their principles), 
between the most important proposition of practical reason, 
and the often seemingly too subtle and needless remarks of the 
Critique of the Speculative Reason, occasions surprise and 
astonishment, and confirms the maxim already recognized and 
praised by others, namely, that in every scientific inquiry we 
should pursue our way steadily with all possible exactness and 
frankness, without caring for any objections that may be raised 
from outside its sphere, but, as far as we can, to carry out 
our inquiry truthfully and completely by itself. Frequent 
observation has convinced me that when such researches are 
concluded, that which in one part of them appeared to me very 
questionable (240), considered in relation to other extraneous 
doctrines, when I left this doubtfulness out of sight for a time, 
and only attended to the business in hand until it was com 
pleted, at last was unexpectedly found to agree perfectly with 
w r hat had been discovered separately without the least regard to 
those doctrines, and without any partiality or prejudice for them. 
Authors would save themselves many errors and much labour 
lost (because spent on a delusion) if they could only resolve to 
go to work with more frankness. 

(241) BOOK II. 




PURE reason always has its dialectic, whether it is considered 
in its speculative or its practical employment; for it 
requires the absolute totality of the conditions of what is 
given conditioned, and this can only be found in things in 
themselves. But as all conceptions of things in themselves 
must be referred to intuitions, and with us men these can 
never be other than sensible, and hence can never enable us 
to know objects as things in themselves but only as appear 
ances, and since the unconditioned can never be found in this 
chain of appearances which consists" only of conditioned and 
conditions ; thus from applying this rational idea of the totality 
of the conditions (in other words, of the unconditioned) to 
appearances there arises an inevitable illusion, as if these latter 
were things in themselves (242) (for in the absence of a warning 
critique they are always regarded as such). This illusion 
would never be noticed as delusive if it did not betray itself by 
a conflict of reason with itself, when it applies to appearances 
its fundamental principle of presupposing the unconditioned to 
everything conditioned. By this, however, reason is compelled 
to trace this illusion to its source, and search how it can be 
removed, and this can only be done by a complete critical 
examination of the whole pure faculty of reason ; so that the 


antinomy of the pure reason which is manifest in its dialectic 
is in fact the most beneficial error into which human reason 
could ever have fallen, since it at last drives us to search for 
the key to escape from this labyrinth ; and when this key is 
found, it further discovers that which we did not seek but yet 
had need of, namely, a view into a higher and an immutable 
order of things, in which we even now are, and in which we 
are thereby enabled by definite precepts to continue to live 
according to the highest dictates of reason. 

It may be seen in detail in the Critique of Pure Eeason how 
in its speculative employment this natural dialectic is to be 
solved, and how the error which arises from a very natural 
illusion may be guarded against. But reason in its practical 
use is not a whit better off. As pure practical reason, it like 
wise seeks to find the unconditioned for the practically con 
ditioned (which rests on inclinations and natural wants), and 
this not as the determining principle of the will, but even when 
this is given (in the moral law) it seeks the unconditioned 
totality of the object of pure practical reason under the name 
of the Summum Bonum. 

To define this idea practically, i.e. sufficiently for the max 
ims of our rational conduct, (243) is the business of practical 
wisdom [ Weisheitslehre], and this again as a science is philosophy, 
in the sense in which the word was understood by the ancients, 
with whom it meant instruction in the conception in which the 
summum bonum was to be placed, and the conduct by which it 
was to be obtained. It would be well to leave this word in its 
ancient signification as a doctrine of the summum bomim, so far 
as reason endeavours to make this into a science. For on the 
one hand the restriction annexed would suit the Greek expres 
sion (which signifies the love of wisdom], and yet at the same 
time would be sufficient to embrace under the name of philo 
sophy the love of science: that is to say, of all speculative 
rational knowledge, so far as it is serviceable to reason, both for 
that conception and also for the practical principle determining 
our conduct, without letting out of sight the main end, on 
account of which alone it can be called a doctrine of practical 

204 DIALECTIC OF [ 244] 

wisdom. On the other hand, it would be no harm to deter the 
self-conceit of one who ventures to claim the title of philosopher 
by holding before him in the very definition a standard of self- 
estimation which would very much lower his pretensions. For 
a teacher of wisdom would mean something more than a scholar 
who has not come so far as to guide himself, much less to guide 
others, with certain expectation of attaining so high an end : it 
would mean a master in the knowledge of wisdom, which implies 
more than a modest man would claim for himself. Thus 
philosophy as well as wisdom would always remain an ideal, 
which objectively is presented complete in reason alone, while 
subjectively for the person it is only the goal of his unceasing 
endeavours, and no one would be justified in professing to be 
in possession of it so as to assume the name of philosopher, who 
could not also show its infallible effects in his own person as an 
example (244) (in his self-mastery and the unquestioned interest 
that he takes pre-eminently in the general good), and this the 
ancients also required as a condition of deserving that honour 
able title. 

We have another preliminary remark to make respecting 
the dialectic of the pure practical reason, on the point of the 
definition of the summurn bonum (a successful solution of which 
dialectic would lead us to expect, as in case of that of the 
theoretical reason, the most beneficial effects, inasmuch as the 
self-contradictions of pure practical reason honestly stated, and 
not concealed, force us to undertake a complete critique of this 

The moral law is the sole determining principle of a pure 
will. But since this is merely formal (viz. as prescribing only 
the form of the maxim as universally legislative), it abstracts 
as a determining principle from all matter that is to say, from 
every object of volition. Hence, though the snmmum bonum 
may be the whole object of a pure practical reason, i.e. a pure 
will, yet it is not on that account to be regarded as its deter 
mining principle ; and the moral law alone must be regarded as 
the principle on which that and its realization or promotion are 
aimed at. This remark is important in so delicate a case as the 


determination of moral principles, where the slightest misinter 
pretation perverts men s minds. For it will have been seen 
from the Analytic, that if we assume any object under the 
name of a good as a determining principle of the will prior to 
the moral law, and then deduce from it the supreme practical 
principle, this would always introduce heteronomy, and crush 
out the moral principle. 

It is, however, evident that if the notion of the summum 
bonum includes that of the moral law (245) as its supreme con 
dition, then the summum bonum would not merely be an object, 
but the notion of it and the conception of its existence as possible 
by our own practical reason would likewise be the determining 
principle of the will, since in that case the will is in fact deter 
mined by the moral law which is already included in this 
conception, and by no other object, as the principle of autonomy 
requires. This order of the conceptions of determination of 
the will must not be lost sight of, as otherwise we should 
misunderstand ourselves, and think we had fallen into a 
contradiction, while everything remains in perfect harmony. 

206 DIALECTIC OF [24?] 

(246) CHAPTER II. 


THE conception of the summum itself contains an ambiguity 
which might occasion needless disputes if we did not attend to 
it. The summum may mean either the supreme (supremum} or 
the perfect (consummatum). The former is that condition which 
is itself unconditioned, i.e. is not subordinate to any other 
{originarium} ; the second is that whole which is not a part of 
a greater whole of the same kind (perfectissimum}. It has been 
shown in the Analytic that virtue (as worthiness to be happy) 
is the supreme condition of all that can appear to us desirable, 
and consequently of all our pursuit of happiness, and is there 
fore the supreme good. But it does not follow that it is the 
whole and perfect good as the object of the desires of rational 
finite beings ; for this requires happiness also, and that not 
merely in the partial eyes of the person who makes himself 
an end, but even in the judgment of an impartial reason, 
which regards persons in general as ends in themselves. For 
to need happiness, to deserve it (247), and yet at the same time 
not to participate in it, cannot be consistent with the perfect 
volition of a rational being possessed at the same time of all 
power, if, for the sake of experiment, we conceive such a being. 
Now inasmuch as virtue and happiness together constitute the 
possession of the summum bonum in a person, and the distribution 
of happiness in exact proportion to morality (which is the worth 
of the person, and his worthiness to be happy) constitutes the 
summum bonum of a possible world ; hence this summum bonum 
expresses the whole, the perfect good, in which, however, virtue 
as the condition is always the supreme good, since it has no 
condition above it ; whereas happiness, while it is pleasant to 
the possessor of it, is not* of itself absolutely and in all respects 


good, but always presupposes morally right behaviour as its 

When two elements are necessarily united in one concept, 
they must be connected as reason and consequence, and this 
either so that their unity is considered as analytical (logical 
connexion), or as synthetical (Teal connexion) the former 
following the law of identity, the latter that of causality. The 
connexion of virtue and happiness may therefore be understood 
in two ways : either the endeavour to be virtuous and the 


rational pursuit of happiness are not two distinct actions, but 
absolutely identical, in which case no maxim need be made the 
principle of the former, other than what serves for the latter ; 
or the connexion consists in this, that virtue produces happiness 
as something distinct from the consciousness of virtue, as a 
cause produces an effect. 

The ancient Greek schools were, properly speaking, only 
two, and in determining the conception of the summum bonum 
these followed in fact one and the same method, inasmuch as 
they did not allow virtue and happiness to be regarded as two 
distinct elements of the summum bonum, and consequently 
sought (243) the unity of the principle by the rule of identity ; 
but they differed as to which of the two was to be taken as 
the fundamental notion. The Epicurean said : To be conscious 
that one s maxims lead to happiness is virtue ; the Stoic said : 
To be conscious of one s virtue is happiness. With the former, 
Prudence was equivalent to morality; with the latter, who 
chose a higher designation for virtue, morality alone was true 

While we must admire the men who in such early times 
tried all imaginable ways of extending the domain of philo 
sophy, we must at the same time lament that their acuteness 
was unfortunately misapplied in trying to trace out identity 
between two extremely heterogeneous notions, those of happi 
ness and virtue. But it agrees with the dialectical spirit of 
their times (and subtle minds are even now sometimes misled 
in the same way) to get rid of irreconcilable differences in 
principle by seeking to change them into a mere contest about 

208 DIALECTIC OF [249] 

words, and thus apparently working out the identity of the 
notion under different names, and this usually occurs in cases 
where the combination of heterogeneous principles lies so deep 
or so high, or would require so complete a transformation of the 
doctrines assumed- in the rest of the philosophical system, that 
men are afraid to penetrate deeply into the real difference, and 
prefer treating it as a difference in matters of form. 

While both schools sought to trace out the identity of the 
practical principles of virtue and happiness, they were not 
agreed as to the way in which they tried to force this identity, 
but were separated infinitely from one another, the one placing 
its principle on the side of sense, the other on that of reason ; 
the one in the consciousness of sensible wants, the other in the 
independence of practical reason (249) on all sensible grounds of 
determination. According to the Epicurean the notion of virtue 
was already involved in the maxim : To promote one s own 
happiness ; according to the Stoics, on the other hand, the feel 
ing of happiness was already contained in the consciousness of 
virtue. Now whatever is contained in another notion is identical 
with part of the containing notion, but not with the whole, and 
moreover two wholes may be specifically distinct, although they 
consist of the same parts, namely, if the parts are united into a 
whole in totally different ways. The Stoic maintained that 
virtue was the whole summum bonum, and happiness only the 
consciousness of possessing it, as making part of the state of the 
subject. The Epicurean maintained that happiness was the 
wJiole summum bonum, and virtue only the form of the maxim 
for its pursuit, viz. the rational use of the means for attain 
ing it. 

Now it is clear from the Analytic that the maxims of virtue 
and those of private happiness are quite heterogeneous as to 
their supreme practical t principle ; and although they belong to 
one summum bonum which together they make possible, yet they 
are so far from coinciding that they restrict and check one 
another very much in the same subject. Thus the question, 
How is the summum bonum practically possible ? still remains an 
unsolved problem, notwithstanding all the attempts at coalition 


that have hitherto been made. The Analytic has, however, 
shown what it is that makes the problem difficult to solve ; 
namely, that happiness and morality are two specifically distinct 
elements of the summum bonum, and therefore their combination 
cannot be analytically cognized (as if the man that seeks his own 
happiness should find by mere analysis of his conception that in 
so acting he is virtuous, or as if the man that follows virtue 
should in the consciousness of such conduct find that he is 
already happy ipso facto) (250,) but must be a synthesis of con 
cepts. Now since this combination is recognized as a priori, 
and therefore as practically necessary, and consequently not as 
derived from experience, so that the possibility of the summum 
bonum does not rest on any empirical principle, it follows 
that the deduction [legitimation] of this concept must be tran 
scendental. It is d priori (morally) necessary to produce the 
summum bonum by freedom of will : therefore the condition of its 
possibility must rest solely on d priori principles of cognition. 

I. The Antinomy of Practical Reason. 

In the summum bonum which is practical for us, i.e. to be 
realized by our will, virtue and happiness are thought as neces 
sarily combined, so that the one cannot be assumed by pure 
practical reason without the other also being attached to it. 
Now this combination (like every other) is either analytical or 
synthetical. It has been shown that it cannot be analytical ; it 
must then be synthetical, and, more particularly, must be con 
ceived as the connexion of cause and effect, since it concerns a 
practical good, i.e. one that is possible by means of action ; 
consequently either the desire of happiness must be the motive 
to maxims of virtue, or the maxim of virtue must be the 
efficient cause of happiness. The first is absolutely impossible, 
because (as was proved in the Analytic) maxims which place 
the determining principle (251) of the will in the desire 
of personal happiness are not moral at all, and no virtue 
can be founded on them. But the second is also impossible, 
because the practical connexion of causes and effects in the 
world, as the result of the determination of the will, does not 


210 DIALECTIC OF [252] 

depend upon the moral dispositions of the will, but on the 
knowledge of the laws of nature and the physical power to use 
them for one s purposes ; consequently we cannot expect in the 
world by the most punctilious observance of the moral laws any 
necessary connexion of happiness with virtue adequate to the 
summum bonum. Now as the promotion of this summum bonum, 
the conception of which contains this connexion, is d priori a 
necessary object of our will, and inseparably attached to the 
moral law, the impossibility of the former must prove the 
falsity of the latter. If then the supreme good is not possible 
by practical rules, then the moral law also which commands us 
to promote it is directed to vain imaginary ends, and must 
consequently be false. 

II. Critical Solution of the Antinomy of Practical 

The antinomy of pure speculative reason exhibits a similar 
conflict between freedom and physical necessity in the causality 
of events in the world. It was solved by showing that there is 
no real contradiction when the events and even the world in 
which they occur are regarded (as they ought to be) merely as 
appearances ; since one and the same acting being, as an ap 
pearance (even to his own inner sense) (252), has a causality in 
the world of sense that always conforms to the mechanism of 
nature, but with respect to the same events, so far as the acting 
person regards himself at the same time as a noumenon (as pure 
intelligence in an existence not dependent on the condition of 
time), he can contain a principle by which that causality acting 
according to laws of nature is determined, but which is itself 
free from all laws of nature. 

It is just the same with the foregoing antinomy of pure 
practical reason. The first of the two propositions That the 
endeavour after happiness produces a virtuous mind, is absolutely 
false ; but the second, That a virtuous mind necessarily pro 
duces happiness, is not absolutely false, but only in so far as 
virtue is considered as a form of causality in the sensible world, 
and consequently only if I suppose existence in it to be the only 


sort of existence of a rational being ; it is then only conditionally 
false. But as I am not only justified in thinking that I exist 
also as a noumenon in a world of the understanding, but even 
have in the moral law a purely intellectual determining prin 
ciple of my causality (in the sensible world), it is not impossible 
that morality of mind should have a connexion as cause with 
happiness (as an effect in the sensible world) if not immediate 
yet mediate (viz. : through an intelligent author of nature), 
and moreover necessary ; while in a system of nature which 
is merely an object of the senses this combination could never 
occur except contingently, and therefore could not suffice for 
the summum bonum. 

Thus, notwithstanding this seeming conflict of practical 
reason with itself, the summum bonurn, which is the necessary 
supreme end of a will morally determined, is a true object 
thereof ; for it is practically possible, and the maxims of the 
will which as regards their matter refer to it have objective 
reality, which at first was threatened by the antinomy that 
appeared in the connexion (253) of morality with happiness 
by a general law ; but this was merely from a misconception, 
because the relation between appearances was taken for a 
relation of the things in themselves to these appearances. 

When we find ourselves obliged to go so far, namely, to the 
connexion with an intelligible world, to find the possibility of 
the summum bonum, which reason points out to all rational 
beings as the goal of all their moral wishes, it must seem 
strange that, nevertheless, the philosophers both of ancient and 
modern times have been able to find happiness in accurate 
proportion to virtue even in this life\m the sensible world), or 
have persuaded themselves that they were conscious thereof. 
For Epicurus as well as the Stoics extolled above everything 
the happiness that springs from the consciousness of living 
virtuously ; and the former was not so base in his practical pre 
cepts as one might infer from the principles of his theory, which 
he used for explanation and not for action, or as they were 
interpreted by many who were misled by his using the term 
pleasure for contentment ; on the contrary, he reckoned the most 

P 2 

212 DIALECTIC OF [254] 

disinterested practice of good amongst the ways of enjoying 
the most intimate delight, and his scheme of pleasure (by which 
he meant constant cheerfulness of mind) included the modera 
tion and control of the inclinations, such as the strictest moral 
philosopher might require. He differed from the Stoics chiefly 
in making this pleasure the motive, which they very rightly 
refused to do. For, on the one hand, the virtuous Epicurus, like 
many well-intentioned men of this day, who do not reflect 
deeply enough on their principles, fell into the error of pre 
supposing the virtuous disposition in the persons for whom he 
wished to provide the springs to virtue (and indeed the upright 
man cannot be happy (254) if he is not first conscious of his 
uprightness ; since with such a character the reproach that his 
habit of thought would oblige him to make against himself in 
case of transgression and his moral self-condemnation would 
rob him of all enjoyment of the pleasantness which his condition 
might otherwise contain). But the question is, How is such a 
disposition possible in the first instance, and such a habit of 
thought in estimating the worth of one s existence, since prior to 
it there can be in the subject no feeling at all for moral worth ? 
If a man is virtuous without being conscious of his integrity in 
every action, he will certainly not enjoy life, however favourable 
fortune may be to him in its physical circumstances ; but can we 
make him virtuous in the first instance, in other words, before 
he esteems the moral worth of his existence so highly, by 
praising to him the peace of mind that would result from 
the consciousness of an integrity for which he has no sense ? 

On the other hand, however, there is here an occasion of a 
vitium subreptionis, and as it were of an optical illusion, in the 
self-consciousness of what one does as distinguished from what 
one feels an illusion which even the most experienced cannot 
altogether avoid. The moral disposition of mind is necessarily 
combined with a consciousness that the will is determined directly 
~by the law. Now the consciousness of a determination of the 
faculty of desire is always the source of a satisfaction in the 
resulting action ; but this pleasure, this satisfaction in oneself, 
is not the determining principle of the action ; on the contrary, 


the determination of the will directly by reason is the source of 
the feeling of pleasure, and this remains a pure practical not 
sensible determination of the faculty of desire. Now as this 
determination has exactly the same effect within (255) in im 
pelling to activity, that a feeling of the pleasure to be expected 
from the desired action would have had, we easily look on what 
we ourselves do as something which we merely passively feel, 
and take the moral spring for a sensible impulse, just as it 
happens in the so-called illusion of the senses (in this case the 
inner sense). It is a sublime thing in human nature to be 
determined to actions immediately by a purely rational law ; 
sublime even is the illusion that regards the subjective side of 
this capacity of intellectual determination as something sensible, 
and the effect of a special sensible feeling (for an intellectual 
feeling would be a contradiction). It is also of great importance 
to attend to this property of our personality, and as much as 
possible to cultivate the effect of reason on this feeling. But 
we must beware lest by falsely extolling this moral determining 
principle as a spring, making its source lie in particular feelings 
of pleasure (which are in fact only results), we degrade and 
disfigure the true genuine spring, the law itself, by putting as 
it were a false foil upon it. Kespect, not pleasure or enjoyment 
of happiness, is something for which it is not possible that 
reason should have any antecedent feeling as its foundation 
(for this would always be sensible and pathological) ; [and] 1 
consciousness of immediate obligation of the will by the law is 
by no means analogous to the feeling of pleasure, although in 
relation to the faculty of desire it produces the same effect, but 
from different sources: it is only by this mode of conception, 
however, that we can attain what we are seeking, namely, that 
actions be done not merely in accordance with duty (as a 
result of pleasant feelings), but from duty, which must be the 
true end of all moral cultivation. 

1 [The original has not ttnd, but als, which does not give any 
satisfactory sense. I have, therefore, adopted Hartenstein s emendation, 
which seems at least to give the meaning intended.] 

214 DIALECTIC OF [257] 

Have we not, however, a word which does not express enjoy 
ment, as happiness does (266), but indicates a satisfaction in one s 
existence, an analogue of the happiness which must necessarily 
accompany the consciousness of virtue ? Yes ! this word is self- 
contentment, which in its proper signification always designates 
only a negative satisfaction in one s existence, in which one is 
conscious of needing nothing. Freedom and the consciousness 
of it as a faculty of following the moral law with unyielding 
resolution is independence on inclinations, at least as motives 
determining (though not as affecting) our desire, and so far as I 
am conscious of this freedom in following my moral maxims, it 
is the only source of an unaltered contentment which is neces 
sarily connected with it and rests on no special feeling. This 
may be called intellectual contentment. The sensible con 
tentment (improperly so-called) which rests on the satisfaction 
of the inclinations, however delicate they may be imagined to 
be, can never be adequate to the conception of it. For the incli 
nations change, they grow with the indulgence shown them, and 
always leave behind a still greater void than we had thought to 
fill. Hence they are always burdensome to a rational being, and 
although he cannot lay them aside, they wrest from him the wish 
to be rid of them. Even an inclination to what is right (e.g. to 
beneficence), though it may much facilitate the efficacy of the 
moral maxims, cannot produce any. For in these all must be 
directed to the conception of the law as a determining principle, 
if the action is to contain morality and not merely legality. 
Inclination is blind and slavish whether it be of a good sort 
or not. and when morality is in question, reason must not play 
the part merely of guardian to inclination, but, disregarding 
it altogether, must attend simply to its own interest as pure 
practical reason (257). This very feeling of compassion and 
tender sympathy, if it precedes the deliberation on the question 
of duty and becomes a determining principle, is even annoying 
to right-thinking persons, brings their deliberate maxims into 
confusion, and makes them wish to be delivered from it and to 
be subject to law-giving reason alone. 

From this we can understand how the consciousness of this 


faculty of a pure practical reason produces by action (virtue) a 
consciousness of , mastery over one s inclinations, and therefore 
of independence on them, and consequently also on the dis 
content that always accompanies them, and thus a negative 
satisfaction with one s state, i.e. contentment, which is primarily 
contentment with one s own person. Freedom itself becomes 
in this way (namely indirectly) capable of an enjoyment which 
cannot be called happiness, because it does not depend on the 
positive concurrence of a feeling, nor is it, strictly speaking, 
Uiss, since it does not include complete independence on in 
clinations and wants, but it resembles bliss in so far as the 
determination of one s will at least can hold itself free from 
their influence ; and thus, at least in its origin, this enjoyment 
is analogous to the self-sufficiency which we can ascribe only 
to the Supreme Being. 

From this solution of the antinomy of pure practical reason 
it follows that in practical principles we may at least conceive 
as possible a natural and necessary connexion between the 
consciousness of morality and the expectation of a proportionate 
happiness as its result, though it does not follow that we can 
know or perceive this connexion ; that, on the other hand, 
principles of the pursuit of happiness cannot possibly produce 
morality ; that, therefore, morality is the supreme good (as the 
first condition of the summum bonum, while happiness con 
stitutes its second element, but only in such a way that it 
is the morally conditioned, but necessary consequence of the 
former (268). Only with this subordination is the summum 
bonum the whole object of pure practical reason, which must 
necessarily conceive it as possible, since it commands us to 
contribute to the utmost of our power to its realization. But 
since the possibility of such connexion of the conditioned with 
its condition belongs wholly to the supersensual relation of 
things, and cannot be given according to the laws of the world 
of sense, although the practical consequences of the idea belong 
to the world of sense, namely, the actions that aim at realizing 
the summum bonum ; we will therefore endeavour to set forth 
the grounds of that possibility, first, in respect of what is 


immediately in our power, and then, secondly, in that which is 
not in our power, but which reason presents to us as the supple 
ment of our impotence, for the realization of the summum, 
lonum (which by practical principles is necessary). 

III. Of the Primacy of Pure Practical Reason in its Union ivith 
the Speculative Reason. 

By primacy between two or more things connected by 
reason, I understand the prerogative belonging to one, of 
being the first determining principle in the connexion with 
all the rest. In a narrower practical sense it means the pre 
rogative of the interest of one in so far as the interest of the 
other is subordinated to it, while it is not postponed to any 
other. To every faculty of the mind we can attribute an in 
terest, that is a principle that contains the condition on which 
alone the former is called into exercise. Reason, as the faculty 
of principles, determines (260) the interest of all the powers of 
the mind, and is determined by its own. The interest of its 
speculative employment consists in the cognition of the object 
pushed to the highest d priori principles : that of its practical 
employment, in the determination of the will in respect of the 
final and complete end. As to what is necessary for the possi 
bility of any employment of reason at all, namely, that its 
principles and affirmations should not contradict one another, 
this constitutes no part of its interest, but is the condition 
of having reason at all ; it is only its development, not mere 
consistency with itself, that is reckoned as its interest. 

If practical reason could not assume or think as given any 
thing further than what speculative reason of itself could offer 
it from its own insight, the latter would have the primacy. 
But supposing that it had of itself original d priori principles 
with which certain theoretical positions were inseparably con 
nected, while these were withdrawn from any possible insight 
of speculative reason (which, however, they must not contra 
dict) ; then the question is, which interest is the superior (not 
which must give way, for they are not necessarily conflicting), 


whether speculative reason, which knows nothing of all that the 
practical offers for its acceptance, should take up these propo 
sitions, and (although they transcend it) try to unite them with 
its own concepts as a foreign possession handed over to it, or 
whether it is justified in obstinately following its own separate 
interest, and according to the canonic of Epicurus rejecting 
as vain subtlety everything that cannot accredit its objective 
reality by manifest examples to be shown in experience, even 
though it should be never so much interwoven with the 
interest of the practical (pure) use of reason, and in itself not 
contradictory to the theoretical, merely because it infringes on 
the interest of the speculative reason to this extent (26 1), that 
it removes the bounds which this latter had set to itself, and 
gives it up to every nonsense or delusion of imagination ? 

In fact, so far as practical reason is taken as dependent 
on pathological conditions, that is, as merely regulating the 
inclinations under the sensible principle of happiness, we could 
not require speculative reason to take its principles from such a 
source. Mohammed s paradise, or the absorption into the Deity 
of the theosuphists and mystics, would press their monstrosities 
on the reason according to the taste of each, and one might as 
well have no reason as surrender it in such fashion to all sorts 
of dreams. But if pure reason of itself can be practical and 
is actually so, as the consciousness of the moral law proves, 
then it is still only one and the same reason which, whether 
in a theoretical or- a practical point of view, judges according 
to a priori principles ; and then it is clear that although it 
is in the first point of view incompetent to establish certain 
propositions positively, which, however, do not contradict it, 
then as soon as these propositions are inseparably attached to 
the practical interest of pure reason, then it must accept them, 
though it be as something offered to it from a foreign source, 
something that has not grown on its own ground, but yet is 
sufficiently authenticated ; and it must try to compare and 
connect them with everything that it has in its power as 
speculative reason. It must remember, however, that these 
are not additions to its insight, but yet are extensions of its 


employment in another, namely, a practical aspect ; and this 
is not in the least opposed to its interest, which consists in 
the restriction of wild speculation. 

Thus, when pure speculative and pure practical reason are 
combined in one cognition, the latter has the primacy, provided, 
namely, that this combination is not contingent and arbitrary, 
but founded a priori on reason itself and therefore necessary (262). 
For without this subordination there would arise a conflict of 
reason with itself; since if they were merely co-ordinate, the 
former would close its boundaries strictly and admit nothing 
from the latter into its domain, while the latter would extend 
its bounds over everything, and when its needs required would 
seek to embrace the former within them. Nor could we reverse 
the order, and require pure practical reason to be subordinate 
to the speculative, since all interest is ultimately practical, and 
even that of speculative reason is conditional, and it is only in 
the practical employment of reason that it is complete. 

IV. The Immortality of the Soul as a Postulate of Pure 
Practical Reason. 

The realization of the summum bonum in the world is the 
necessary object of a will determinable by the moral law. But 
in this will the perfect accordance of the mind with the moral 
law is the supreme condition of the summum bonum. This then 
must be possible, as well as its object, since it is contained in 
the command to promote the latter. Now, the perfect accor 
dance of the will with the moral law is holiness, a perfection of 
which no rational being of the sensible world is capable at any 
moment of his existence. Since, nevertheless, it is required as 
practically necessary, it can only be found in a progress in 
infinitum towards that perfect accordance, and on the principles 
of -pure practical reason it is necessary (-263) to assume such a 
practical progress as the real object of our will. 

Now, this endless progress is only possible on the supposition 
of an endless duration of the existence and personality of the 
same rational being (which is called the immortality of the 


soul). The summum bonum, then, practically is only possible 
on the supposition of the immortality of the soul ; consequently 
this immortality, being inseparably connected with the moral 
law, is a postulate of pure practical reason (by which I mean 
a theoretical proposition, not demonstrable as such, but which 
is an inseparable result of an unconditional d priori practical 
law). 1 

This principle of the moral destination of our nature, 
namely, that it is only in an endless progress that we can 
attain perfect accordance with the moral law, is of the greatest 
use, not merely for the present purpose of supplementing the 
impotence of speculative reason, but also with respect to re 
ligion. In default of it, either the moral law is quite degraded 
from its holiness, being made out to be indulgent, and con 
formable to our convenience, or else men strain their notions 
of their vocation and their expectation to an unattainable goal, 
hoping to acquire complete holiness of will, and so they lose 
themselves in fantastical theosophic dreams, which wholly con 
tradict self-knowledge. In both cases the unceasing effort to 
obey punctually and thoroughly a strict and inflexible command 
of reason, which yet is not ideal but real, is only hindered. 
For a rational but finite being, the only thing possible is an 
endless progress from the lower to higher degrees of moral per 
fection. The Infinite Being, to whom the condition of time is 
nothing, (264), sees in this to us endless succession a whole of 
accordance with the moral law ; and the holiness which His 
command inexorably requires, in order to be true to His justice 
in the share which He assigns to each in the summum bonum, 
is to be found in a single intellectual intuition of the whole 
existence of rational beings. All that can be expected of the 
creature in respect of the hope of this participation would be 
the consciousness of his tried character, by. which, from the 
progress he has hitherto made from the worse to the morally 
better, and the immutability of purpose which has thus become 
known to him, he may hope for a further unbroken continuance 

1 [See Preface, p. 115, note.] 

220 DIALECTIC OF [265] 

of the same, however long his existence may last, even beyond 
this life, 1 and thus he may hope, not indeed here, nor in any 
imaginable point of his future existence, but only in the 
endlessness of his duration (which God alone can survey) (265) 
to be perfectly adequate to his will (without indulgence or 
excuse, which do not harmonize with justice). 

V. The Existence of God as a Postulate of Pure Practical 


In the foregoing analysis the moral law led to a practical 
problem which is prescribed by pure reason alone, without the 
aid of any sensible motives, namely, that of the necessary 
completeness of the first and principal element of the summum 
bonum, viz. Morality ; and as this can be perfectly solved only 
in eternity, to the postulate of immortality. The same law 
must also lead us to affirm the possibility of the second element 
of the summum bonum, viz. Happiness proportioned to that 
morality, and this on grounds as disinterested as before, and 

1 It seems, nevertheless, impossible for a creature to have the conviction 
of his unwavering firmness of "mind in the progress towards goodness. 
On this account the Christian religion makes it come only from the same 
Spirit that works sanctification, that is, this firm purpose, and with it the 
consciousness of steadfastness* in the moral progress. But naturally one 
who is conscious that he has persevered through a long portioo of his life 
up to the end in the progress to the better, and this from genuine moral 
motives, may well have the comforting hope, though not the certainty, 
that even in an existence prolonged beyond this life he will continue 
steadfast in these principles ; and although he is never justified here in 
his own eyes, nor can ever hope to be so in the increased perfection of his 
nature, to which he looks forward, together with an increase of duties, 
nevertheless in this progress which, though it is directed to a goal 
infinitely remote, yet is in God s sight regarded as equivalent to posses 
sion, he may have a prospect of a blessed future ; for this is the word that 
reason employs to designate perfect loell-being independent on all con 
tingent causes of the world, and which, like holiness, is an idea that can 
be contained only in an endless progress and its totality, and consequently 
is never fully attained by a creature. 

[The uiro/xonj ot the N. T.] 


solely from impartial reason ; that is, it must lead to the 
supposition of the existence of a cause adequate to this effect ; 
in other words, it must postulate the existence of God, as the 
necessary condition of the possibility of the summum bonum 
(an object of the will which is necessarily connected with the 
moral legislation of pure reason). We proceed to exhibit this 
connexion in a convincing manner. 

Happiness is the condition of a rational being in the world 
with whom everything goes according to his wish and will ; it rests, 
therefore, on the harmony of physical nature with his whole 
end, and likewise with the essential determining principle of 
his will. Now the moral law as a law of freedom commands 1} 
by determining principles (266), which ought to be quite inde- 1 
pendent on nature and on its harmony with our faculty of 
desire (as springs). But the acting rational being in the world 
is not the cause of the world and of nature itself. There is not 
the least ground, therefore, in the moral law for a necessary 
connexion between morality and proportionate happiness in a 
being that belongs to the world as part of it, and therefore 
dependent on it, and which for that reason cannot by his will 
be a cause of this nature, nor by his own power make it 
thoroughly harmonize, as far as his happiness is concerned, with 
his practical principles. Nevertheless, in the practical problem 
of pure reason, i.e. the necessary pursuit of the summum lonum, 
such a connexion is postulated as necessary : we ought to 
endeavour to promote the summum bonum, which, therefore, 
must be possible. Accordingly, the existence of a cause of all 
nature, distinct from nature itself, and containing the principle 
of this connexion, namely, of the exact harmony of happiness 
with morality, is also postulated. Now, this supreme cause must 
contain the principle of the harmony of nature, not merely with 
a law of the will of rational beings, but with the conception 
of this law, in so far as they make it the supreme determining 
principle of the will, and consequently not merely with the form 
of morals, but with their morality as their motive, that is, with 
their moral character. Therefore, the summum bonum is possible 



in the world only on the supposition of a Supreme Being l 
having a causality corresponding to moral character. Now a 
being that is capable of acting on the conception of laws is an 
intelligence (a rational being), and the causality of such a being 
according to this conception of laws is his will ; therefore the 
supreme cause of nature, which must be presupposed as a con 
dition of the summum bonum (26?) is a being which is the cause 
of nature by intelligence and will, consequently its author, that 
is God. It follows that the postulate of the possibility of the 
highest derived good (the best world) is likewise the postulate of 
the reality of a highest original good, that is to say, of the 
existence of God. Now it was seen to be a duty for us to 
promote the summum bonum , consequently it is not merely 
allowable, but it is a necessity connected with duty as a 
requisite, that we should presuppose the possibility of this 
summum bonum ; and as this is possible only on condition of 
the existence of God, it inseparably connects the supposition 
of this with duty ; that is, it is morally necessary to assume the 
existence of God. 

It must be remarked here that this moral necessity is 
subjective, that is, it is a want, and not objective, that is, itself a 
duty, for there cannot be a duty to suppose the existence of 
anything (since this concerns only the theoretical employment 
of reason). Moreover, it is not meant by this that it is necessary 
to suppose the existence of God as a basis of all obligation in 
general (for this rests, as has been sufficiently proved, simply on 
the autonomy of reason itself). What belongs to duty here is 
only the endeavour to realize and promote the summum bonum 
in the world, the possibility of which can therefore be postu 
lated ; and as our reason finds it not conceivable except on the 
supposition of a supreme intelligence, the admission of this 
existence is therefore connected with the consciousness of our 

1 [The original has " a Supreme Nature." "Natur," however, almost 
invariably means "physical nature"; therefore Hartenstein supplies the 
words "cause of" before "nature." More probably "Natur" is a slip 
for "Ursache," "cause."] 


duty, although the admission itself belongs to the domain of 
speculative reason. Considered in respect of this alone, as a 
principle of explanation, it may be called a hypothesis, but in 
reference to the intelligibility of an object given us by the 
moral law (the summum bonum], and consequently of a require 
ment for practical purposes, it may be called faith, that is to 
say a pure rational faith, since pure reason (268) (both in its 
theoretical and its practical use) is the sole source from which 
it springs. ^ 

From this deduction it is now intelligible why the Greek 
schools could never attain the solution of their problem of the 
practical possibility of the summum bonutu, because they made 
the rule of the use which the will of man makes of his freedom 
the sole and sufficient ground of this possibility, thinking that 
they had no need for that purpose of the existence of God. No 
doubt they were so far right that they established the principle 
of morals of itself independently on this postulate, from the 
relation of reason only to the will, and consequently made it 
the supreme practical condition of the summum bonum ; but it 
was not therefore the whole condition of its possibility. The 
Epicureans had indeed assumed as the supreme principle of 
morality a wholly false one, namely, that of happiness, and had 
substituted for a law a maxim of arbitrary choice according to 
every man s inclination ; they proceeded, however, consistently 
enough in this, that they degraded their summum bonum like 
wise just in proportion to the meanness of their fundamental 
principle, and looked for no greater happiness than can be 
attained by human prudence (including temperance and modera 
tion of the inclinations), and this, as we know, would be scanty 
enough and would be very different according to circumstances ; 
not to mention the exceptions that their maxims must perpetu 
ally admit and which make them incapable of being laws. The 
Stoics, on the contrary, had chosen their supreme practical 
principle quite rightly, making^viilue_J/he J3flixdition__of^the 
siimmumjbonum ; but when they represented the degree of 
virtue required by its pure law as fully attainable in this life, 
they not only strained the moral powers of the man whom 

224 DIALECTIC OF [269] 

they called the wise beyond all the limits of his nature, and 
assumed (269) a thing that contradicts all our knowledge of 
men, but also and principally they would not allow the second 
element of the summum bonurn, namely, happiness, to be properly 
a special object of human desire, but made their wise man, like a 
divinity in his consciousness of the excellence of his person, 
wholly independent on nature (as regards his own contentment) ; 
they exposed him indeed to the evils of life, but made him not 
subject to them (at the same time representing him also as free 
from moral evil). They thus, in fact, left out the second element 
of the summum bonum, namely, personal happiness, placing it 
I solely in action and satisfaction with one s own personal worth, 
thus including it in the consciousness of being morally minded, 
in which they might have been sufficiently refuted by the voice 
of their own nature. ^ 

The doctrine of Christianity, 1 even if we do not yet consider 
it as a religious doctrine, gives, touching this point (269), a con 
ception of the summum bonum (the kingdom of God), which 
alone satisfies the strictest demand of practical reason. The 
moral law is holy (unyielding) and demands holiness of morals, 

1 It is commonly held that the Christian precept of morality has no 
advantage in respect of purity over the moral conceptions of the Stoics ; 
the distinction between them is, however, very obvious. The Stoic system 
made the consciousness of strength of mind the pivot on which all moral 
dispositions should turn ; and although its disciples spoke of duties and 
even defined them very well, yet they placed the spring and proper deter 
mining principle of the will in an elevation of the mind above the lower 
springs of the senses, which owe their power only to weakness of mind. 
With them, therefore, virtue was a sort of heroism in the ivise man who, 
raising himself above the animal nature of man, is sufficient for himself, 
and while he prescribes duties to others is himself raised above them, and 
is not subject to any temptation to transgress the moral law. All this, 
however, they could not have done if they had conceived this law in all its 
purity and strictness, as the precept of the Gospel does. When I give the 
name idea to a perfection to which nothing adequate can be given in 
experience, it does not follow that the moral ideas are something transcen 
dent, that is something of which we could not even determine the concept 
adequately, or of which it is uncertain whether there is any object corre- 


although all the moral perfection to which man can attain is 
still only virtue, tnat is, a frightful disposition arising from 
respect for_the_law, implying consciousness of a constant pro 
pensity to transgression, or at least a want of purity, that is, a 
mixture of many spurious (not moral) motives of obedience to 
the law, consequently a self-esteem combined with humility. In 
respect, then, of the holiness which the Christian law requires, 
this leaves the creature nothing but a progress in injinitum, but 
for that very reason it justifies him in hoping for an endless 
duration of his existence. The worth of a character perfectly 
accordant with the moral law is infinite, since (270) the only 
restriction on all possible happiness in the judgment of a wise 
and all-powerful distributor of it is the absence of conformity of 
rational beings to their duty. But the moral law of itself does 
not promise any happiness, for according to our conceptions of 
an order of nature in general, this is not necessarily connected 
with obedience to the law. Now Christian morality supplies 
this defect (of the second indispensable element of the sum mum 
bon/ /n) by representing the world, in which rational beings 
devote themselves with all their soul to the moral law, as a 
i of God, in which nature and morality are brought into 

spending to it at all (270), as is the case with the ideas of speculative 
reason ; on the contrary, being types of practical perfection, they serve as 
the indispensable rule of conduct and likewise as the standard of compari 
son. Now if I consider Christian morals on their philosophical side, then 
compared with the ideas of the Greek schools they would appear as follows : 
the ideas of the Cynics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Christians are : 
simplicity of nature, prudence, ivisdom, and holiness. In respect of the way 
of attaining them, the Greek schools were distinguished from one another 
thus, that the Cynics only required common sense, the others the path of 
science, but both found the mere use of natural powers sufficient for the 
purpose. Christian morality, because its precept is framed (as a moral 
precept must be) so pure and unyielding, takes from man all confidence that 
he can be fully adequate to it, at least in this life, but again sets it up by 
enabling us to hope that if we act as well as it is in our power to do, then 
what is not in our power will come in to our aid from another source, 
whether we know how this may be or not. Aristotle and Plato differed only 
as to the origin of our moral conceptions. [See Preface, p. 115, note.~\ 


226 DIALECTIC OF [~27l] 

[a harmony foreign to each of itself, by a holy Author who 
[makes the derived summum bonum possible. Holiness of life is 
prescribed to them as a rule even in this life, while the welfare 
proportioned to it, namely, bliss, is represented as attainable 
only in an eternity ; because the former must always be the 
pattern of their conduct in every state, and progress towards it 
is already possible and necessary in this life ; while the latter, 
under the name of happiness, cannot be attained at all in this 
world (so far as our own power is concerned), and therefore is 
made simply an object of hope. Nevertheless, the Christian 
principle of morality itself is not theological (so as to be hetero- 
nomy), but is_autonom^of_pure practical reason, since it does 

will the foundation of 

tfiese,_but_only of the attainment of the summum bomini, on 
condition of following_these laws, and it does_not even place the 
proper spmnof_this obedience in thedesired_r^su|te,Jjut solely 
in the conception of duty,,as that o_f_ which, the faithful_observ- 

obtamjbhose happy 

In this manner the moral laws lead through the conception 
of the summum bonum as the object and final end of pure prac 
tical reason to religion (in), that is, to the recognition of all 
iutics as divine commands, not as sanctions, 1 that is to say, arbi 
trary ordinances of a foreign will and contingent in themselves, but 
is essential laws of every free will in itself, which, nevertheless, 
nust be regarded as commands of the Supreme Being, because 
t is only from a morally perfect (holy and good) and at the 
same time all-powerful will, and consequently only through 
larmony with this will, that we can hope to attain the summum 
bonum which the moral law makes it our duty to take as the 
object of our endeavours. Here again, then, all remains dis 
interested and founded merely on duty ; neither fear nor hope 
being made the fundamental springs, which if taken as prin- 

1 [The word sanction is here used in the technical German sense, 
which is familiar to students of history in connexion with the Pragmatic 


ciples would destroy the whole moral worth of actions. The 
moral law commands me to make the highest possible good in a 
world the ultimate object of all my conduct. But I cannot 
hope to effect this otherwise than by the harmony of my will 
with that of a holy and good Author of the world ; and although 
the conception of the summnm bonum as a whole, in which the 
greatest happiness is conceived as combined in the most exact 
proportion with the highest degree of moral perfection (possible 
in creatures), includes my own happiness, yet it is not this that 
is the determining principle of the will which is enjoined to 
promote the summum bonum, but the moral law, which, on the 
contrary, limits by strict conditions my unbounded desire of 

Hence also morality is not properly the doctrine how we 
should make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy \ 
of happiness. It is only when religion is added that there also 
comes in the hope of participating some day in_happiness in 
proportion as we have endeavoured to be not unworthy of it. 

(272) A man is worthy to possess a thing or a state when his 
possession of it is iii harmony with the summnm bonum. We 
can now easily see that all worthiness depends on moral conduct, 
since in the conception of the summum bonum this constitutes 
the condition of the rest (which belongs to one s state), namely, 
the participation of happiness. Now it follows from this that 
morality should never be treated as a doctrine of happiness, 
that is, an instruction how to become happy ; for it has to do 
simply with the rational condition (conditio sine qua non) of 
happiness, not with the means of attaining it. But when 
morality has been completely expounded (which merely im 
poses duties instead of providing rules for selfish desires), then 
first, after the moral desire to promote the summum bonum (to 
bring the kingdom of God to us) has been awakened, a desire 
founded on a law, and which could not previously arise in any 
selfish mind, and when for the behoof of this desire the step to 
religion has been taken, then this ethical doctrine may be also 
called a doctrine of happiness because the hope of happiness 
first begins with religion only. 


228 DIALECTIC OF [273] 

We can also see from this that, when we ask what is God s 
ultimate cndi\\ creating the world, we must not name the happi 
ness of the rational beings in it, but the sum mum bonum, which 
adds a further condition to that wish of such beings, namely, 
the condition of being worthy of happiness, that is, the morality 
of these same rational beings, a condition which alone contains 
the rule by which only they can hope to share in the former at 
the hand of a wise Author. For as wisdom- theoretically con 
sidered signifies the knowledge of the summum bo-ntun, and practi 
cally the accordance of the will with the summum bonnm, we 
cannot attribute to a supreme independent wisdom an end 
based merely on goodness (-273). For we cannot conceive the 
action of this goodness (in respect of the happiness of rational 
beings) as suitable to the highest original good, except under 
the restrictive conditions of harmony with the holiness of His 
will. Therefore those who placed the end of creation in the 
glory of God (provided that this is not conceived anthropomor- 
phically as a desire to be praised) have perhaps hit upon the 
best expression. For nothing glorifies God more than that 
which is the most estimable thing in the world, respect for His 
command, the observance of the holy duty that His law imposes 
on us, when there is added thereto His glorious plan of crown- 
ing such a beautiful order of things with corresponding happi 
ness. If the latter (to speak humanly) makes Him worthy of 

1 In order to make these characteristics of these conceptions clear, I 
add the remark that whilst we ascribe to God various attributes, the 
quality of which we also find applicable to creatures, only that in Him 
they are raised to the highest degree, e.g. power, knowledge, presence, 
goodness, &c., under the designations of omnipotence, omniscience, omni- 

o or 

presence, A r c., there are three that are ascribed to God exclusively, and 
yet without the addition of greatness, and which are all moral. He is the 
only holy, the only blessed, the only trise, because these conceptions already 
imply the .absence of limitation. In the order of these attributes He is 
also the holy lau-girer (and creator), the good governor (and preserver), 
and the just judge, three attributes which include everything by which 
God is the object of religion, and in conformity with which the meta 
physical perfections are added of themselves in the reason. 


love, by the former He is an object of adoration. Even men 
can never acquire respect by benevolence alone, though they 
may gain love, so that the greatest beneficence only procures 
them honour when it is regulated by worthiness. 

That in the order of ends, man (and with him every rational 
being) is an end in himself, that is, that he can never be used 
merely as a means by any (274) (not even by God) without being 
at the same time an end also himself, that therefore humanity 
in our person must be holy to ourselves, this follows now of 
itself because he is the subject 1 of the moral law, in other words,i] 
of that which is holy in itself, and on account of which and 
in agreement with which alone can anything be termed holy. 
For this moral law is founded on the autonomy of his will, 
as a free will which by its universal laws must necessarily be 
able to agree with that to which it is to submit itself. 

VI. Of the Postulates of Pure Practical fieason in 

They all proceed from the principle of morality, which is 
not a postulate but a law, by which reason determines the 
will directly, which will, because it is so determedin as a pure 
will, requires these necessary conditions of obedience to its 
precept. These postulates are not theoretical dogmas but, 
suppositions practically necessary ; while then they do [not] 2 
extend our speculative knowledge, they give objective reality 
to the ideas of speculative reason in general (by means of 
their reference to what is practical), and give it a right to 
concepts, the possibility even of which it could riot otherwise 
venture to affirm. 

, These postulates are those of immortality, freedom positively 
considered (as the causality of a being so far as he belongs to 

1 [That the ambiguity of the word subject may not mislead the reader, 
it may be remarked that it is here used in the psychological sens e 
snljectum legis, not subjectus hgi.~] 

2 [Absent from the original text.] 

230 DIALECTIC OF [276] 

the intelligible world), and the existence of God. The first 
results from the practically necessary condition of a dura 
tion (275) adequate to the complete fulfilment of the moral 
law ; the second from the necessary supposition of independence 
on the sensible world, and of the faculty of determining one s 
will according to the law of an intelligible world, that is, of 
freedom ; the third from the necessary condition of the ex 
istence of the summum bonum in such an intelligible world, 
by the supposition of the supreme independent good, that is, 
the existence of God. 

Thus the fact that respect for the moral law necessarily 
makes the summum bonum an object of our endeavours, and 
the supposition thence resulting of its objective reality, lead 
through the postulates of practical reason to conceptions which 
speculative reason might indeed present as problems, but could 
never solve. Thus it leads 1. To that one in the solution of 
which the latter could do nothing but commit paralogisms 
(namely, that of immortality), because it could not lay hold of 
the character of permanence, by which to complete the psycho 
logical conception of an ultimate subject necessarily ascribed to 
the soul in self-consciousness, so as to make it the real concep 
tion of a substance, a character which practical reason furnishes 
by the postulate of a duration required for accordance with the 
moral law in the snmmum bonum, which is the whole end of 
practical reason. 2. It leads to that of which speculative reason 
contained nothing but antinomy, the solution of which it could 
only found on a notion problematically conceivable indeed, but 
whose objective reality it could not prove or determine, namely, 
the cosmological idea of an intelligible world and the conscious 
ness of our existence in it, by means of the postulate of freedom 
(the reality of which it lays down by virtue of the moral law), 
and with it likewise the law of an intelligible world, to which 
speculative reason could only point, but could not define its 
conception. 3. What speculative reason was able to think, but 
was obliged to leave undetermined as a mere transcendental 
ideal (276), viz. the theological conception of the First Being, to 
this it gives significance (in a practical view, that is, as a 


condition of the possibility of the object of a will determined 
by that law), namely, as the supreme principle of the summum 
bonum in an intelligible world, by means of moral legislation in 
it invested with sovereign power. 

Is our knowledge, however, actually extended in this way 
by pure practical reason, and is that immanent in practical 
reason which for the speculative was only transcendent ? 
Certainly, but only in a practical point of view. *For we do I 
not thereby take knowledge of the nature of our souls, nor of I 
the intelligible world, nor of the Supreme Being, with respect I 
to what they are in themselves, but Jwe have merely combined 
the conceptions of them in the practical concept of the summum 
bonum as the object of our will, and this altogether a priori, but 
only by means of the moral law, and merely in reference to it, 
in respect of the object which it commands. But how freedom 
is possible, and how we are to conceive this kind of causality 
theoretically and positively, is not thereby discovered ; but only 
that there is such a causality is postulated by the -moral law 
and in its behoof. It is the same with the remaining ideas, the 
possibility of which no human intelligence will ever fathom, 
but the truth of which, on the other hand, no sophistry will 
ever wrest from the conviction even of the commonest man.e 

(277) VII. HOVJ is it possible to conceive an extension of Pure 
Reason in a Practical point of view, without its Knowledge 
as Speculative being enlarged at the same time 1 

In order not to be too abstract, we will answer this question 
at once in its application to the present case. In order to 
extend a pure cognition practically, there must be an d priori 
purpose, given, that is, an end as object (of the will), which 
independently on all theological principle . is presented as 
practically necessary by an imperative which determines the 
will directly (a categorical imperative), and in this case that is 
the summum bonum. This, however, is not possible without pre 
supposing three theoretical conceptions (for which, because they 
are mere conceptions of pure reason, no corresponding intuition 

2 . 52 DIALECTIC OF [~278] 

can be found, nor consequently by the path of theory any 
objective reality), namely, freedom, immortality, and God. Thus 
by the practical law which commands the existence of the 
highest good possible in a world, the possibility of those objects 
of pure speculative reason is postulated, and the objective 
reality which the latter could not assure them. By this the 
theoretical knowledge of pure reason does indeed obtain an 
accession ; but it consists only in this, that those concepts which 
otherwise it had to look upon as problematical (merely think 
able) concepts, are now shown assertorially to be such as actually 
have objects; becaiise practical reason indispensably requires 
their existence for the possibility of its object, the sum mum 
lionum, which practically is absolutely necessary, and this 
justifies theoretical reason in assuming them. But this ex 
tension of theoretical reason (273) is no extension of speculative, 
that is, we cannot make any positive use of it in a theoretical 
point of view. For as nothing is accomplished in this by practical 
reason, further than that these concepts are real and actually 
have their (possible) objects, and nothing in the way of intui 
tion of them is given thereby (which indeed could not be 
demanded), hence the admission of this reality does not render 
any synthetical proposition possible. Consequently this dis 
covery does not in the least help us to extend this knowledge of 
ours in a speculative point of view, although it does in respect 
of the practical employment of pure reason. The above three 
ideas of speculative reason are still in themselves not cogni 
tions ; they are, however, (transcendent-) thouyhts in which there 
is nothing impossible. Now, by help of an apodictic practical 
law, being necessary conditions of that which it commands to Ic 
made an object, they acquire objective reality : that is, we learn 
from it that tltci/ have objects, without being able to point out 
how the conception of them is related to an object, and this, 
too, is still not a cognition of these objects ; for we cannot 
thereby form any synthetical judgment about them, nor deter 
mine their application theoretically ; consequently we can make 
no theoretical rational use of them at all, in which use all 
speculative knowledge of reason consists. Nevertheless, the 


theoretical knowledge. not indeed of these objects, but of reason 
generally, is so far enlarged by this, that by the practical pos 
tulates objects were given to those ideas, a merely problematical 
thought having by this means first acquired objective reality. 
There is therefore no extension of the knowledge of given super 
sensible objects, but an extension of theoretical reason and of its 
knowledge in respect of the supersensible generally ; inasmuch 
as it is compelled to admit tlutt there are such objects (279), 
although it is not able to define them more closely, so as itself 
to extend this knowledge of the objects (which have now been 
given it on practical grounds, and only for practical use). For 
this accession, then, pure theoretical reason, for which all those 
ideas are transcendent and without object; has simply to thank 
its practical faculty. In this they become immanent and consti 
tutive, being the source of the possibility of realizing tlie necessary 
object of pure practical reason (the summum bonum) ; whereas 
apart from this they are transcendent, and merely regulative 
principles of speculative reason, which do not require it to 
assume a new object beyond experience, but only to bring its 
use in experience nearer to completeness. But when once 
reason is in possession of this accession, it will go to work with 
these ideas as speculative reason (properly only to assure the 
certainty of its practical use) in a negative manner : that is, 
not extending but clearing up its knowledge so as on one side 
to keep off anthropomorphism, as the source of superstition, or 
seeming extension of these conceptions by supposed experience ; 
and on the other side fanaticism, which promises the same by 
means of supersensible intuition or feelings of the like kind. 
All these are hindrances to the practical use of pure reason, so 
that the removal of them may certainly be considered an 
extension of our knowledge in a practical point of view, with 
out contradicting the admission that for speculative purposes 
reason has not in the least gained by this. 

Every employment of reason in respect of an object requires 
pure concepts of the understanding (categories), without which 
no object can be conceived. These can be applied to the theo 
retical employment of reason, i.e., to that kind of knowledge, 


only in case an intuition (which is always sensible) is taken as 
a basis, and therefore merely in order (280) to conceive by means 
of them an object of possible experience. Now here what have 
to be thought by means of the categories, in order to be known, 
are ideas of reason, which cannot be given in any experience. 
Only we are not here concerned with the theoretical knowledge 
of the objects of these ideas, but only with this, whether they 
have objects at all. This reality is supplied by pure practical 
reason, and theoretical reason has nothing further to do in this 
but to think those objects by means of categories. This, as we 
have elsewhere clearly shown, can be done well enough without 
needing any intuition (either sensible or supersensible), because 
the categories have their seat and origin in the pure understand 
ing, simply as the faculty of thought, before and independently 
on any intuition, and they always only signify an object in 
general, no matter in what way it may be given to us. Now when 
the categories are to be applied to these ideas, it is not possible 
to give them any object in intuition ; but that such an object 
actually exists, and consequently that the category as a mere 
form of thought is here not empty but has significance, this is 
sufficiently assured them by an object which practical reason 
presents beyond doubt in the concept of the summum bonunt, 
namely, the reality of the conceptions which are required for 
the possibility of the summum bonum, without, however, effect 
ing by this accession the least extension of our knowledge on 
theoretical principles. 

When these ideas of God, of an intelligible world (the 
kingdom of God), and of immortality are further determined by 
predicates taken from our own nature, we must not regard this 
determination as a sensualizing of those pure rational ideas (28 1) 
(anthropomorphism), nor as a transcendent knowledge of super 
sensible objects ; for these predicates are no others than under 
standing and will, considered too in the relation to each other 
in which they must be conceived in the moral law, and there 
fore only so far as a pure practical use is made of them. As to 
all the rest that belongs to these conceptions psychologically, 


that is, so far as we observe these faculties of ours empirically 
in their exercise (e.g. that the understanding of man is discursive, 
and its notions therefore not intuitions but thoughts, that these 
follow one another in time, that his will has its satisfaction 
always dependent on the existence of its object, &c., which 
cannot be the case in the Supreme Being), from all this we 
abstract in that case, and then there remains of the notions by 
which we conceive a pure intelligence nothing more than just 
what is required for the possibility of conceiving a moral law. 
There is then a knowledge of God indeed, but only for practical 
purposes ; and if we attempt to extend it to a theoretical know 
ledge, we find an understanding that has intuitions, not thoughts, 
a will that is directed to objects on the existence of which its 
satisfaction does not in the least depend (not to mention the 
transcendental predicates, as, for example, a magnitude of exist 
ence, that is duration, which, however, is not in time, the only 
possible means we have of conceiving existence as magnitude). 
Now these are all attributes of which we can form no conception 
that would help to the knowledge of the object, and we learn 
from this that they can never be used for a theory of supersen 
sible beings, so that on this side they are quite incapable of 
being the foundation of a speculative knowledge, and their use 
is limited simply to the practice of the moral law. 

(282) This last is so obvious, and can be proved so clearly by 
fact, that we may confidently challenge all pretended natural 
theologians (a singular name) 1 to specify (over and above the 

1 [This remark, as well as the following note, applies to the etymological 
form of the German word, which is God-learned.] Learning is properly 
only the whole content of the historical sciences. Consequently it is only 
the teacher of revealed theology that can he called a learned theologian 
[God-learned]. If, however, we choose to call a man learned who is in 
possession of the rational sciences (mathematics and philosophy), although 
even this would be contrary to the signification of the word (which always 
counts as learning only that which must be learned [taught], and which, 
therefore, he cannot discover of himself by reason), even in that case the 
philosopher would make too poor a figure with his knowledge of God as 
a positive science to let himself be called on that account a learned man. 

236 DIALECTIC OF [-283] 

merely ontological predicates) one single attribute, whether of 
the understanding or of the will, determining this object of 
theirs, of which we could not show incontrovertibly that if we 
abstract from it everything anthropomorphic, nothing would 
remain to us but the mere word, without our being able to connect 
with it the smallest notion by which we could hope for an exten 
sion of theoretical knowledge. But as to the practical, there 
still remains to us of the attributes of understanding and will the 
conception of a relation to which objective reality is given by the 
practical law (which determines d priori precisely this relation 
of the understanding to the will). When once this is done, 
then reality is given to the conception of the object of a will 
morally determined (the conception of the summum bonwn), and 
with it to the conditions of its possibility, the ideas of God, 
freedom, and immortality, but always only relatively to the 
practice of the moral law (and not for any speculative purpose). 
According to these remarks it is now easy to find the answer 
to the weighty question : whether the notion of God is one belti</- 
ing to Physics (and therefore also to Metaphysics (283), which 
contains the pure d priori principles of the former in their uni 
versal import) or to morals. If we have recourse to God as the 
Author of all things, in order to explain the arrangements of 
nature or its changes, this is at least not a physical explanation, 
and is a complete confession that our philosophy has come to an 
end. since w r e are obliged to assume something of which in itself 
we have otherwise no conception, in order to be able to frame 
a conception of the possibility of what we see before our eyes. 
Metaphysics, however, cannot enable us to attain % certain 
inference from the knowledge of this world to the conception 
of God and to the proof of His existence, for this reason, that in 
order to say that this world could be produced only by a God 
(according to the conception implied by this word) we should 
know this world as the most perfect whole possible ; and for 
this purpose should also know all possible worlds (in order to be 
able to compare them with this) ; in other words, We should be 
omniscient. It is absolutely impossible, however, to know the 
existence of this Being from mere concepts, because every 


existential proposition, that is, every proposition that affirms 
the existence of a being of which I frame a concept, is a 
synthetic proposition, that is, one by which I go beyond that 
conception and affirm of it more than was thought in the 
conception itself, namely, that this concept in the understand 
ing has an object corresponding to it outside the understanding, 
and this it is obviously impossible to elicit by any reasoning. ^^ 
There remains, therefore, only one single process possible for 
reason to attain this knowledge, namely, to start from the 
supreme principle of its pure practical use (which in every 
case is directed simply to the existence of something as a 
consequence of reason), and thus determine its object. Then 
its inevitable problem, namely, the necessary direction of the 
will to the summum bonuni, discovers to us not only the 
necessity of assuming such a First Being (234) in reference 
to the possibility of this good in the world, but what is 
most remarkable, something which reason in its progress on 
the path of physical nature altogether failed to find, namely, 
an accurately defined conception of this First Being. As 
we can know only a small part of this world, and can still 
less compare it with all possible worlds, we may indeed from 
its order, design, and greatness, infer a wise, good, powerful, 
&c.. Author of it, but not that He is all-wise, all-good, all- 
powerful, &c. It may indeed, very well be granted that we 
should be justified in supplying this inevitable defect by a 
legitimate and reasonable hypothesis, namely, that when 
wisdom, goodness, &c., are displayed in all the parts that 
oiler themselves to our nearer knowledge, it is just the same 
in all the rest, and that it would therefore be reasonable to 
ascribe all possible perfections to the Author of the world ; 
but these are not strict logical inferences in which we can 
pride ourselves on our insight, but only permitted con 
clusions in which we may be indulged, and which require 
further recommendation before we can make use of them. On 
the path of empirical inquiry then (physics) the conception 
of God remains always a conception of the perfection of the 
First Being not accurately enough determined to be held 

238 DIALECTIC OF [ 285] 

adequate to the conception of Deity. (With metaphysic in its 
transcendental part nothing whatever can be accomplished.) 

When I now try to test this conception by reference to 
the object of practical reason, I find that the moral principle 
admits as possible only the conception of an Author of the 
world possessed of the highest perfection. He must be omni 
scient, in order to know my conduct up to the inmost root 
of my mental state in all possible cases and into all future 
time ; omnipotent, in order to allot to it its fitting conse 
quences ; similarly He must be omnipresent, eternal, &c. Thus 
the moral law, by means of the conception of the summutn 
lonum (235) as the object of a pure practical reason, determines 
the concept of the First Being as the /Supreme Being ; a thing 
which the physical (and in its higher development the meta 
physical), in other words, the whole speculative course of 
reason, was unable to effect. The conception of God, then, 
is one that belongs originally not to physics, i.e. to speculative 
reason, but to morals. The same may be said of the other 
conceptions of reason of which we have treated above as postu 
lates of it in its practical use. 

In the history of Grecian philosophy we find no distinct 
traces of a pure rational theology earlier than Anaxagoras ; but 
this is not because the older philosophers had not intelligence 
or penetration enough to raise themselves to it by the path of 
speculation, at least with the aid of a thoroughly reasonable 
hypothesis. What could have been easier, what more natural, 
than the thought which of itself occurs to everyone, to assume 
instead of several causes of the world, instead of an indeterminate 
degree of perfection, a single rational cause having all perfection ? 
But the evils in the world seemed to them to be much too serious 
objections to allow them to feel themselves justified in such a 
hypothesis. They showed intelligence and penetration then in 
this very point, that they did not allow themselves to adopt it, 
but on the contrary looked about amongst natural causes to see 
if they could not find in them the qualities and power required 
for a First Being. But when this acute people had advanced 
so far in their investigations of nature as to treat even moral 


questions philosophically, on which other nations had never 
done anything but talk, then first they found a new and 
practical want, which did not fail to give definiteness to their 
conception of the First Being : and in this the speculative 
reason played the part of spectator, or at best had the merit 
of embellishing a conception that had not grown on its own 
ground, and of applying a series of confirmations (286) from 
the study of nature now brought forward for the first time, not 
indeed to strengthen the authority of this conception (which 
was already established), but rather to make a show with a 
supposed discovery of theoretical reason. 

From these remarks the reader of the Critique of Pure 
Speculative Eeason will be thoroughly convinced how highly 
necessary that laborious deduction of the categories was, and 
how fruitful for theology and morals. For if, on the one hand, 
we place them in the pure understanding, it is by this deduction 
alone that we can be prevented from regarding them, with 
Plato, as innate, and founding on them extravagant pretensions 
to theories of the supersensible, to which we can see no end, and 
by which we should make theology a magic lantern of chimeras : 
on the other hand, if we regard them as acquired, this deduction 
saves us from restricting, with Epicurus, all and every use of 
them, even for practical purposes, to the objects and motives 
of the senses. But now that the Critique has shown by that 
deduction, first, that they are not of empirical origin, but have 
their seat and source a priori in the pure understanding; secondly, 
that as they refer to objects in general independently on the 
intuition of them, hence, although they cannot effect theoretical 
knowledge, except in application to empirical objects, yet when 
applied to an object given by pure practical reason they enable 
us to conceive the supersensible definitely, only so far, however, as 
it is defined by such predicates as are necessarily connected with 
the pure practical purpose given d priori and with its possibility. 
The speculative restriction of pure reason and its practical 
extension bring it into that (28?) relation of equality in which 
reason in general can be employed suitably to its end, and this 

240 DIALECTIC OF [288] 

example proves better than any other that the path to wisdom, 
if it is to be made sure and not to be impassable or misleading, 
must with us men inevitably pass through science ; but it is 
not till this is completed that we can be convinced that it 
leads to this goal. 

VIII. Of Belief from a Requirement of Pure Reason. 

A want or requirement of pure reason in its speculative use 
leads only to a hypothesis] that of pure practical reason to a 
postulate ; for in the former case I ascend from the result as high 
as I please in the series of causes, not in order to give objective 
reality to the result (e.g. the causal connexion of things and 
changes -in the world), but in order thoroughly to satisfy my 
inquiring reason in respect of it. Thus I see before me order 
and design in nature, and need not resort to speculation to assure 
myself of their reality, but to explain them I have to prc-suppose 
a Deity as their cause ; and then since the inference from an 
effect to a definite cause is always uncertain and doubtful, 
especially to a cause so precise and so perfectly defined as we 
have to conceive in God, hence the highest degree of certainty to 
which this pre-suppositiou can be brought is, that it is the most 
rational opinion for us men 1 (288). On the other hand, a require 
ment of pure practical reason is based on a duty, that of making 
something (the summum bonum} the object of my will so as to 
promote it with all my powers ; in which case I must suppose 
its possibility, and consequently also the conditions necessary 

1 But even here we should not be able to allege a requirement of 
reason, if we had not before our eyes a problematical, but yet inevitable, 
conception of reason, namely, that of an absolutely necessary being. This 
conception now seeks to be defined, and this, in addition to the tendency 
to extend itself, is the objective ground of a requirement of speculative 
reason, namely, to have a more precise definition of the conception of a 
necessary being which is to serve as the first cause of other beings, so as 
to make these* latter kinjwable by some means. Without such antecedent 
necessary problems there are no requirements at least not of pure reason 
the rest are requirements of inclination. 

* I read diesc with the cd. of 1791. Rosenkranz and Hartenstein both read dieses, 
this being. 


thereto, namely, God, freedom, and immortality ; since I cannot 
prove these by my speculative reason, although neither can 1 
refute them. This duty is founded on something that is indeed 
quite independent on these suppositions, and is of itself apodic- 
tically certain, namely, the moral law ; and so far it needs no 
further support by theoretical views as to the inner constitution 
of things, the secret final aim of the order of the world, or a 
presiding ruler thereof, in order to bind me in the most perfect 
manner to act in unconditional conformity to the law. But the 
subjective effect of this law, namely, the mental disposition con 
formed to it and made necessary by it, to promote the practically 
possible summum bonum, this pre-supposes at least that the latter 
impossible, for it r would be practically impossible to strive after 
the object of a conception which at bottom was empty and had 
no object. Now the above-mentioned postulates concern only 
the physical or metaphysical conditions of the possibility of the 
summum bonum (239) ; in a word, those which lie in the nature 
of things ; not, however, for the sake of an arbitrary speculative 
purpose, but of a practically necessary end of a pure rational 
will, which in this case does not choose, but obeys an inexorable 
command of reason, the foundation of which is objective, in the 
constitution of things as they must be universally judged by 
pure reason, and is not based on inclination ; for we are in no 
wise justified in assuming, on account of what we wish on merely 
subjective grounds, that the means thereto are possible or that its 
object is real. This, then, is an absolutely necessary requirement, 
and what it pre-supposes is not merely justified as an allowable 
hypothesis, but as a postulate in a practical point of view ; and 
admitting that the pure moral law inexorably binds every man 
as a command (not as a rule of prudence), the righteous man 
may say : I will that there be a God, that my existence in this 
world be also an existence outside the chain of physical causes, 
and in a pure world of the understanding, and lastly, that my 
duration be endless ; I firmly abide by this, and will not let this 
faith be taken from me ; for in this instance alone my interest, 
because I must not relax anything of it, inevitably determines 
my judgment, without regarding sophistries, however unable 

242 DIALECTIC OF [2!)0] 

1 may be to answer them or to oppose them with others more 
plausible. 1 

(290) In order to prevent misconception in the use of a notion 
as yet so unusual as that of a faith of pure practical reason, let 
me be permitted to add one more remark. It might almost 
seem as if this rational faith were here announced as itself a 
command, namely, that we should assume the summum bonum as 
possible. But a faith that is commanded is nonsense. Let the 
preceding analysis, however, be remembered of what is required 
to be supposed in the conception of the summum bonum, and it 
will be seen that it cannot be commanded to assume this possi 
bility, and no practical disposition of mind is required to admit 
it ; but that speculative reason must concede it without being 
asked, for no one can affirm that it is impossible in itself that 
rational beings in the world should at the same time be worthy 
of happiness in conformity with the moral law, and also possess 
this happiness proportionately. Now in respect of the first 
element of the summum bonum, namely, that which concerns 

1 In the Deutsches Museum, February, 1787, there is a dissertation 
by a very subtle and clear-headed man, the late Wizenmann, whose early 
death is to be lamented, in which he disputes the right to argue from a 
want to the objective reality of its object, and illustrates the point by the 
example of a man in love, who, having fooled himself into an idea of 
beauty, which is merely a chimera of his own brain, would fain conclude 
that such an object really exists somewhere (290). I quite agree with 
him in this, in all cases where the want is founded on inclination, which 
cannot necessarily postulate the existence of its object even for the man 
that is affected by it, much less can it contain a demand valid for every 
one, and therefore it is merely a subjective ground of the wish. But in the 
present case we have a want of reason springing from an objective deter 
mining principle of the will, namely, the moral law, which necessarily 
binds every rational being, and therefore justifies him in assuming 
a priori in nature the conditions proper for it, and makes the latter 
inseparable from the complete practical use of reason. It is a duty to 
realize the summum bonum to the utmost of our power, therefore it must 
be possible, consequently it is unavoidable for every rational being in the 
world to assume what is necessary for its objective possibility. The 
assumption is as necessary as the moral law, in connexion with which 
alone it is valid. 


morality, the moral law gives merely a command, and to doubt 
the possibility of that element would be the same as to call in 
question the moral law itself (291). But as regards the second 
element of that object, namely, happiness perfectly proportioned 
to that worthiness, it is true that there is no need of a command 
to admit its possibility in general, for theoretical reason has 
nothing to say against it ; but the manner in which we have to 
conceive this harmony of the laws of nature with those of 
freedom has in it something in respect of which we have a 
choice, because theoretical reason decides nothing with apodictic 
certainty about it, and in respect of this there may be a moral 
interest which turns the scale. 

I had said above that in a mere course of nature in the world 
an accurate correspondence between happiness and moral worth 
is not to be expected, and must be regarded as impossible, and 
that therefore the possibility of the summum bonum cannot be 
admitted from this side except on the supposition of a moral 
Author of the world. I purposely reserved the restriction of this 
judgment to the subjective conditions of our reason, in order not 
to make use of it until the manner of this belief should be 
defined more precisely. The fact is that the impossibility 
referred to is merely subjective, that is, our reason finds it 
impossible for it to render conceivable in the way of a mere 
course of nature a connexion so exactly proportioned and so 
thoroughly adapted to an end, between two sets of events 
happening according to such distinct laws ; although, as with 
everything else in nature that is adapted to an end, it cannot 
prove, that is, show by sufficient objective reasons, that it is not 
possible by universal laws of nature. 

Now, however, a deciding principle, of a different kind 
comes into play to turn the scale in this uncertainty of specu 
lative reason. The command to promote the summum bonum is 
established on an objective basis (in practical reason) ; the pos 
sibility of the same in general is likewise established on an 
objective basis (292) (in theoretical reason, which has nothing to 
say against it). But reason cannot decide objectively in what 
way we are to conceive this possibility ; whether by universal 


244 DIALECTIC OF [-293] 

laws of nature without a wise Author presiding over nature, 
or only on supposition of such an Author. Now here there 
comes in a subjective condition of reason ; the only way theo 
retically possible for it, of conceiving the exact harmony of the 
kingdom of nature with the kingdom of morals, which is the 
condition of the possibility of the sumnmm bonuni; and at the 
same time the only one conducive to morality (which depends 
on an objective law of reason). Now since the promotion of this 
summum bonnm, and therefore the supposition of its possibility, 
are objectively necessary (though only as a result of practical 
reason), while at the same time the manner in which we would 
conceive it rests with our own choice, and in this choice a free 
interest of pure practical reason decides for the assumption of a 
wise Author of the world ; it is clear that the principle that 
herein determines our judgment, though as a want it is sub 
jective, yet at the same time being the means of promoting what 
is objectively (practically) necessary, is the foundation of a maxim 
of belief in a moral point of view, that is, a faith of pure practical 
reason. This, then, is not commanded, but being a voluntary 
determination of our judgment, conducive to the moral (com 
manded) purpose, and moreover harmonizing with the theoretical 
requirement of reason, to assume that existence and to make it 
the foundation of our further employment of reason, it has itself 
sprung from the moral disposition of mind ; it may therefore at 
times waver even in the well-disposed, but can never be reduced 
to unl>elief. 

(203) IX. Of the Wise Adaptation of Man s Cognitive Faculties 
to his Practical Destination. 

If human nature is destined to endeavour after the svmmum 
bonum, we must suppose also that the measure of its cognitive 
faculties, and particularly their relation to one another, is suitable 
to this end. Now the Critique of Pure Speculative Eeason proves 
that this is incapable of solving satisfactorily the most weighty 
problems that are proposed to it, although it does not ignore the 
natural and important hints received from the same reason, nor 
the great steps that it can make to approach to this great goal 


that is set beforq it, which, however, it can never reach of itself, 
even with the help of the greatest knowledge of nature. Nature 
then seems here to have provided us only in a step-mother! // 
fashion with the faculty required for our end. 

Suppose now that in this matter nature had conformed to 
our wish, and had given us that capacity of discernment or that 
enlightenment which we would gladly possess, or which some 
imagine they actually possess, what would in all probability be 
the consequence ? Unless our whole nature were at the same 
time changed, our inclinations, which always have the first 
word, would first of all demand their own satisfaction, and, 
joined with rational reflection, the greatest possible and most 
lasting satisfaction, under the name of happiness ; the moral 
law (204) would afterwards speak, in order to keep them within 
their proper bounds, and even to subject them all to a higher 
end, which has no regard to inclination. But instead of the 
conflict that the moral disposition has now to carry OH with the 
inclinations, in which, though after some defeats, moral strength 
of mind may be gradually acquired, God and eternity with their 
awful majesty would stand unceasingly before our eyes (for what 
we can prove perfectly is to us as certain as that of which we 
are assured by the sight of our eyes). Transgression of the 
law, would, no doubt, be avoided ; what is commanded would 
be done; but the mental disposition, from which actions ought 
to proceed, cannot be infused by any command, and in this case 
the spur of action is ever active and external, so that reason 
has no need to exert itself in order to gather strength to resist 
the inclinations by a lively representation of the dignity of 
the law : hence most of the actions that conformed to the law 
would be done from fear, a few only from hope, and none at all 
from duty, and the moral worth of actions, on which alone in 
the eyes of supreme wisdom the worth of the person and even 
that of the world depends, would cease to exist. As long as 
the nature of man remains what it is, his conduct would thus 
be changed into mere mechanism, in which, as in a puppet- 
show, everything would gesticulate, well, but there would be 
no life in the figures. Now, when it is quite otherwise with 


us, when with all the effort of our reason we have only a very 
obscure and doubtful view into the future, when the Governor 
of the world allows us only to conjecture His existence and His 
majesty, not to behold them or prove them clearly; and, on the 
other hand, the moral law within us, without promising or 
threatening anything with certainty, demands of us disinterested 
respect ; and only when this respect has become active (295) 
and dominant does it allow us by means of it a prospect into 
the world of the supersensible, and then only with weak glances ; 
all this being so, there is room for true moral disposition, imme 
diately devoted to the law. and a rational creature can become 
worthy of sharing in the summum bonum that corresponds to 
the worth of his person and not merely to his actions. Thus 
whafc the study of nature and of man teaches us sufficiently 
elsewhere may well be true here also ; that the unsearchable 
wisdom by which we exist is not less worthy of admiration in 
what it has denied than in what it has granted. 






BY the methodology of pure practical reason we are not to 
understand the mode of proceeding with pure practical 
principles (whether in study or in exposition), with a view to a 
scientific knowledge of them, which alone is what is properly 
called method elsewhere in theoretical philosophy (for popular 
knowledge requires a manner, science a method, i.e. a process 
according to principles of reason by which alone the manifold of 
any branch of knowledge can become a system). On the con 
trary, by this methodology is understood the mode in which 1 we 
can give the laws of pure practical reason access to the human 
mind, and influence on its maxims, that is, by which we can 
make the objectively practical reason subjectively practical also. 
Now it is clear enough that those determining principles of 
the will which alone make maxims properly moral and give 
them a moral worth, namely, the direct conception of the law 
and the objective necessity of obeying it as our duty, must be 
regarded as the proper springs of action, since otherwise legality 
of actions might be produced, but not morality of character. 
But it is not so clear : on the contrary, it must at first sight seem 
to everyone very improbable that, even subjectively, that exhi 
bition of pure virtue can have more power over the human mind, 

1 [Read wie for die. ] 


and supply a far stronger spring even for affecting that legality of 
actions, and can produce more powerful resolutions (300) to prefer 
the law, from pure respect for it, to every other consideration, 
than all the deceptive allurements of pleasure or of all that may 
be reckoned as happiness, or even than all threatenings of pain 
and misfortune. Nevertheless, this is actually the case, and if 
human nature were not so constituted, no mode of presenting 
the law by roundabout ways and indirect recommendations 
would ever produce morality of character. All would be simple 
hypocrisy ; the law would be hated, or at least despised, while it 
was followed for the sake of one s own advantage. The letter 
of the law (legality) would be found in our actions, but not the 
spirit of it in our minds (morality) ; and as with all our efforts 
we could not quite free ourselves from reason in our judgment, 
we must inevitably appear in our own eyes worthless, depraved 
men, even though we should seek to compensate ourselves for 
this mortification before the inner tribunal, by enjoying the 
pleasure that a supposed natural or divine law might be imagined 
to have connected with it a sort of police machinery, regulating 
its operations by what was done without troubling itself about 
the motives for doing it. 

It cannot indeed be denied that in order to bring an uncul 
tivated or degraded mind into the track of moral goodness some 
preparatory guidance is necessary, to attract it by a view of 
its own advantage, or to alarm it by fear of loss ; but as soon as 
this mechanical work, these leading-strings, have produced some 
effect, then we must bring before the mind the pure moral motive, 
which, not only because it is the only one that can be the foun 
dation of a character (a practically consistent habit of mind with 
unchangeable maxims) (301), but also because it teaches a man 
to feel his own dignity, gives the mind a j>ower unexpected even 
by himself, to tear himself from all sensible attachments so far 
as they would fain have the rule, and to find a rich compensation 
for the sacrifice he offers, in the independence of his rational 
nature and the greatness of soul to which he sees that he is 
destined. We will therefore show, by such observations as every 
one can make, that this property of our minds, this receptivity 


for a pure moral interest, and consequently the moving force of 
the pure conception of virtue, when it is properly applied to the 
human heart, is the most powerful spring, and, when a continued 
and punctual observance of moral maxims is in question, the 
only spring of good conduct. It must, however, be remembered 
that if these observations only prove the reality of such a feeling, 
but do not show any moral improvement brought about by it, 
this is no argument against the only method that exists of 
making the objectively practical laws of pure reason subjectively 
practical, through the mere force of the conception of duty ; nor 
does it prove that this method is a vain delusion. For as it has 
never yet come into vogue, experience can say nothing of its 
results ; one can only ask for proofs of the receptivity for such 
springs, and these I will now briefly present, and then sketch 
the method of founding and cultivating genuine moral dis 

When we attend to the course of conversation in mixed 
companies, consisting not merely of learned persons and subtle 
reasoners, but also of v men of business or of women, we observe 
that, besides story-telling and jesting, another kind of enter 
tainment finds a place in them, namely, argument ; for stories, if 
they are to have novelty and interest, are soon exhausted, and 
jesting is likely to become insipid (302). Now of all argument 
there is none in which persons are more ready to join who find 
any other subtle discussion tedious, none that brings more liveli 
ness into the company, than that which concerns the moral worth 
of this or that action by which the character of some person is 
to be made out. Persons, to whom in other cases anything 
subtle and speculative in theoretical questions is dry and irksome, 
presently join in when the question is to make out the moral 
import of a good or bad action that has been related, and they 
display an exactness, a refinement, a subtlety, in excogitating 
everything that can lessen the purity of purpose, and conse 
quently the degree of virtue in it, which we do not expect from 
them in any other kind of speculation. In these criticisms 
persons who are passing judgment on others often reveal their 
own character : some, in exercising their judicial office, especially 


upon the dead, seem inclined chiefly to defend the goodness that 
is related of this or that deed against all injurious charges of 
insincerity, and ultimately to defend the whole moral worth of 
the person against the reproach of dissimulation and secret 
wickedness ; others, on the contrary, turn their thoughts more 
upon attacking this worth by accusation and fault-finding. We 
cannot always, however, attribute to these latter the intention 
of arguing away virtue altogether out of all human examples 
in order to make it an empty name : often, on the contrary, it is 
only well-meant strictness in determining the true moral import 
of actions according to an uncompromising law. Comparison 
with such a law, instead of with examples, lowers self-conceit in 
moral matters very much, and not merely teaches humility, 
but makes everyone feel it when he examines himself closely. 
Nevertheless, we can for the most part observe in those who 
defend the purity of purpose in given examples, that where 
there is the presumption of uprightness (303) they are anxious 
to remove even the least spot, lest, if all examples had their 
truthfulness disputed, and if the purity of all human virtue were 
denied, it might in the end be regarded as a mere phantom, and 
so all effort to attain it be made light of as vain affectation and 
delusive conceit. 

I do not know why the educators of youth have not long since 
made use of this propensity of reason to enter w r ith pleasure upon 
the most subtle examination of the practical questions that are 
thrown up ; and why they have not, after first laying the foun 
dation of a purely moral catechism, searched through the bio 
graphies of ancient and modern times with the view of having 
at hand instances of the duties laid dow y n, in which, especially by 
comparison of similar actions under different circumstances, they 
might exercise the critical judgment of their scholars in remark 
ing their greater or less moral significance. This is a thing in 
which they would find that even early youth, which is still unripe 
for speculation of other kinds, would soon become very acute and 
not a little interested, because it feels the progress of its faculty 
of judgment; and what is most important, they could hope with 
confidence that the frequent practice of knowing and approving 


good conduct in all its purity, and on the other hand of remarking 
witli regret or contempt the least deviation from it, although it 
may be pursued only as a sport in which children may compete 
with one another, yet will leave a lasting impression of esteem 
on the one hand and disgust on the other ; and so, by the mere 
habit of looking on such actions as deserving approval or blame, 
a good foundation would be laid for uprightness in the future 
course of life (304). Only I wish they would spare them the 
example of so-called nolle (super-meritorious) actions in which 
our sentimental books so much abound, and would refer all to 
duty merely, and to the worth that a man can and must give 
himself in his own eyes by the consciousness of not having 
transgressed it, since whatever runs up into empty wishes and 
longings after inaccessible perfection produces mere heroes of 
romance, who, while they pique themselves on their feeling for 
transcendent greatness, release -themselves in return from the 
observance of common and every-day obligations, which then 
seem to them petty and insignificant. 1 

But if it is asked, what then is really pure morality, by 
which as a touchstone we must test the moral significance of 
every action, then I must admit that it is only philosophers that 
can make the decision of this question doubtful, for to common 
sense it has been decided long ago, not indeed by abstract general 
formula, but by habitual use, like the distinction between the 
right and left hand. We will then point out the criterion of 
pure virtue in an example first, and imagining that it is set 

1 It is quite proper to extol actions that display a great, unselfish, 
sympathizing mind or humanity. But in this case we must fix attention 
not so much on the elevation of soul, which is very fleeting and transitory, 
as on the subjection of the heart to duty, from which a more enduring 
impression may be expected, because this implies principle (whereas the 
former only implies ebullitions). One need only reflect a little and he 
will always find a debt that he has by some means incurred towards the 
human race (even if it were only this, that by the inequality of men in 
the civil constitution he enjoys advantages on account of which others 
must be the more in want), which will prevent the thought of duty from 
being repressed by the self-complacent imagination of merit. 


before a boy of, say, ten years old, for his judgment, we will see 
whether (305) he would necessarily judge so of himself without 
being guided by his teacher. Tell him the history of an honest 
man whom men want to persuade to join the calumniators of 
an innocent and powerless person (say, Anne Boleyn, accused 
by Henry VIII of England). He is offered advantages, great 
gifts, or high rank ; he rejects them. This will excite mere 
approbation and applause in the mind of the hearer. Now 
begins the threatening of loss. Amongst these traducers are 
his best friends, who now renounce his friendship ; near kinsfolk, 
who threaten to disinherit him (he being without fortune): 
powerful persons, who can persecute and harass him in all places 
and circumstances; a prince who threatens him with loss of 
freedom, yea, loss of life. Then to fill the measure of suffering, 
and that he may feel the pain that only the morally good heart 
can feel very deeply, let us conceive his family threatened with 
extreme distress and want, entreating him to yield] conceive 
himself, though upright, yet with feelings not hard or insensible 
either to compassion or to his own distress ; conceive him, I say, 
at the moment when he wishes that he had never lived to see 
the day that exposed him to such unutterable anguish, yet 
remaining true to his uprightness of purpose, without wavering 
or even doubting; then will my youthful hearer be raised 
gradually from mere approval to admiration, from that to 
amazement, and finally to the greatest veneration, and a lively 
wish that he himself could be such a man (though certainly not 
in such circumstances). Yet virtue is here worth so much only 
because it costs so much, not because it brings any profit. All the 
admiration, and even the endeavour to resemble this character, 
rest wholly on the purity of the moral principle, which can only 
be strikingly shown (soe) by removing from the springs of 
action everything that men may regard as part of happiness. 
Morality then must have the more power over the human heart 
the more purely it is exhibited. Whence it follows that if the 
law of morality and the image of holiness and virtue are to 
exercise any influence at all on our souls, they can do so only 
so far as they are laid to heart in their purity as motives, 


unmixed with any view to prosperity, for it is in suffering that 
they display themselves most nobly. Now that whose removal 
strengthens the effect of a moving force must have been a 
hindrance, consequently every admixture of motives taken from 
our own happiness is a hindrance to the influence of the moral 
law on the heart. I affirm further, that even in that admired 
action, if the motive from which it was done was a high regard 
for duty, then it is just this respect for the law that has the 
greatest influence on the mind of the spectator, not any preten 
sion to a supposed inward greatness of niind or noble meritorious 
sentiments ; consequently duty, not merit, must have not only 
the most definite, but, when it is represented in the true light of 
its inviolability, the most penetrating influence on the mind. 

It is more necessary than ever to direct attention to this 
method in our times, when men hope to produce more effect on 
the mind with soft, tender feelings, or high-flown, puffing-up 
pretensions, which rather wither the heart than strengthen it, 
than by a plain and earnest representation of duty, which is 
more suited to human imperfection and to progress in goodness. 
To set before children, as a pattern, actions that are called noble, 
magnanimous, meritorious, with the notion of captivating them 
by infusing an enthusiasm for such actions, is to defeat our 
end (307). For as they are still so backward in the observance 
of the commonest duty, and even in the correct estimation of it, 
this means simply to make them fantastical romancers betimes. 
But, even with the instructed and experienced part of mankind, 
this supposed spring has, if not an injurious, at least no genuine 
moral effect on the heart, which, however, is what it was desired 
to produce. 

All feelings, especially those that are to produce unwonted 
exertions, must accomplish their effect at the moment they are 
at their height, and before they calm down ; otherwise they effect 
nothing ; for as there was nothing to strengthen the heart, but 
only to excite it, it naturally returns to its normal moderate 
tone, and thus falls back into its previous languor. Principles 
must be built on conceptions ; on any other basis there can only 
be paroxysms, which can give the person no moral worth, nay, 


not even confidence in himself, without which the highest good 
in man, consciousness of the morality of his mind and character, 
cannot exist. Now if these conceptions are to become subjec 
tively practical, we must not rest satisfied with admiring the 
objective law of morality, and esteeming it highly in reference 
to humanity, but we must consider the conception of it in 
relation to man as an individual, and then this law appears in a 
form indeed that is highly deserving of respect, but not so 
pleasant as if it belonged to the element to which he is naturally 
accustomed, but, on the contrary, as often compelling him to 
quit this element, not without self-denial, and to betake himself 
to a higher, in which he can only maintain himself with trouble 
and with unceasing apprehension of a relapse. In a word, the 
moral law demands (sos) obedience, from duty, not from predi 
lection, which cannot and ought not to be pre-supposed at all. 

Let us now see in an example whether the conception of an 
action as a noble and magnanimous one has more subjective 
moving power than if the action is conceived merely as duty in 
relation to the solemn law of morality. The action by which a 
man endeavours at the greatest peril of life to rescue people 
from shipwreck, at last losing his life in the attempt, is reckoned 
on one side as duty, but on the other and for the most part as a 
meritorious action, but our esteem for it is much weakened by 
the notion of duty to himself, which seems in this case to be some 
what infringed. More decisive is the magnanimous sacrifice of 
life for the safety of one s country ; and yet there still remains 
some scruple whether it is a perfect duty to devote one s self to 
this purpose spontaneously and unbidden, and the action has 
not in itself the full force of a pattern and impulse to imitation. 
But if an indispensable duty be in question, the transgression 
of which violates the moral law itself, and without regard to the 
welfare of mankind, and as it were tramples on its holiness (such 
as are usually called duties to God, because in Him we conceive 
the ideal of holiness in substance), then we give our most perfect 
esteem to the pursuit of it at the sacrifice of all that can have 
any value for the dearest inclinations, and we find our soul 
strengthened and elevated by such an example, when we convince 


ourselves by contemplation of it that human nature ^ capable 
of so great an elevation above every motive that nature can 
oppose to it. Juvenal describes such an example in a climax 
which makes the reader feel vividly the force of the spring that 
is contained in the pure law of duty, as duty : 

(309) Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem 
Integer ; ambiguae si quando citabere testis 
Incertaeque rei, Phalaris licet imperet ut sis 
Falsus, et admoto dictet periuria tauro, 
Summum crede nefas animam praeferre pudori, 
Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas. 

When we can bring any nattering thought of merit into our 
action, then the motive is already somewhat alloyed with self- 
love, and has therefore some assistance from the side of the 
sensibility. But to postpone everything to the holiness of duty 
alone, and to be conscious that we can because our own reason 
recognizes this as its command and says that we ought to do it, 
this is, as it were, to raise ourselves altogether above the world 
of sense, and there is inseparably involved in the same a con 
sciousness of the law, as a spring of a faculty that controls the 
sensibility; and although this is not always attended with 
effect, yet frequent engagement with this spring, and the at 
first minor attempts at using it, give hope that this effect may 
be wrought, and that by degrees th& greatest, and that a purely 
moral interest in it may be produced in us. 

The method then takes the following course. At first we 
are only concerned to make the judging of actions by moral 
laws a natural employment accompanying all our own free 
actions as well as the observation of those of others, and to 
make it, as it were, a habit, and to sharpen this judgment, asking 
first whether the action conforms objectively to the moral law, 
and to what law; and we distinguish the law that merely 
furnishes a principle of obligation from that which is really 
obligatory (leges obligandi a legibus obligantibus) ; as, for instance, 
the law of what men s vjants require from me, as contrasted with 
that which their rights demand, the latter of which prescribes 



(310) essential, the former only non-essential duties; and thus 
we teach how to distinguish different kinds of duties which meet 
in the same action. The other point to which attention must be 
directed is the question whether the action was also (subjec 
tively) done for the sake of the moral law, so that it not only is 
morally correct as a deed, but also, by the maxim from which it 
is done, has moral worth as a disposition. Now there is no 
doubt that this practice, and the resulting culture of our reason 
in judging merely of the practical, must gradually produce a 
certain interest even in the law of reason, and consequently in 
morally good actions. For we ultimately take a liking for a 
thing, the contemplation of which makes us feel that the use of 
our cognitive faculties is extended, and this extension is espe 
cially furthered by that in which we find moral correctness, 
since it is only in such an order of things that reason, with its 
faculty of determining a priori on principle what ought to be 
done, can find satisfaction. An observer of nature takes liking 
at last to objects that at first offended his senses, when he 
discovers in them the great adaptation of their organization to 
design, so that his reason finds food in its contemplation. So 
Leibnitz spared an insect that he had carefully examined with 
the microscope, and replaced it on its leaf, because he had found 
himself instructed by the view of it, and had as it were received 
a benefit from it. 

But this employment of the faculty of judgment, which 
makes us feel our own cognitive powers, is not yet the interest 
in actions and in their morality itself. It merely causes us to 
take pleasure in engaging in such criticism, and it gives to 
virtue or the disposition that conforms to moral laws a form of 
beauty, which is admired, but not on that account sought after 
(laudatur ct algd} ; as everything the contemplation of which 
produces a consciousness of the harmony (311) of our powers of 
conception, and in which we feel the whole of our faculty of 
knowledge (understanding and imagination) strengthened, pro 
duces a satisfaction, which may also be communicated to others, 
while nevertheless the existence of the object remains indifferent 
to us, being only regarded as the occasion of our becoming aware 


of the capacities in us which are elevated above mere animal 
nature. Now, however, the second exercise comes in, the living 
exhibition of morality of character by examples, in which 
attention is directed to purity of will, first only as a negative 
perfection, in so far as in an action done from duty no motives 
of inclination have any influence in determining it. By this the 
pupil s attention is fixed upon the consciousness of his freedom, 
and although this renunciation at first excites a feeling of pain, 
nevertheless, by its withdrawing the pupil from the constraint 
of even real wants, there is proclaimed to him at the same time 
a deliverance from the manifold dissatisfaction in which all these 
wants entangle him, and the mind is made capable of receiving 
the sensation of satisfaction from other sources. The heart is 
freed and lightened of a burden that always secretly presses on 
it, when instances of pure moral resolutions reveal to the man 
an inner faculty of which otherwise he has no right knowledge. 
the inward freedom to release himself from the boisterous impor 
tunity of inclinations, to such a degree that none of them, not 
even the dearest, shall have any influence on a resolution, for 
which we are now to employ our reason. Suppose a case where 
/ alone know that the wrong is on my side, and although a free 
confession of it and the offer of satisfaction are so strongly 
opposed by vanity, selfishness, and even an otherwise not illegi 
timate antipathy to the man whose rights are impaired by me, 
I am nevertheless able to discard all these considerations (312) ; 
in this there is implied a consciousness of independence on 
inclinations and circumstances, and of the possibility of being 
sufficient for myself, which is salutary to me in general for 
other purposes also. And now the law of duty, in consequence 
of the positive worth which obedience to it makes us feel, finds 
easier access through the respect for ourselves in the consciousness 
of our freedom. When this is well established, when a man 
dreads nothing more than to find himself, on self-examination, 
worthless and contemptible in his own eyes, then every good 
moral disposition can be grafted on it, because this is the best, 
nay, the only guard that can keep off from the mind the pressure 
of ignoble and corrupting motives. 


260 CONCLUSION. [313] 

I have only intended to point out the most general maxims 
of the methodology of moral cultivation and exercise. As the 
manifold variety of duties requires special rules for each kind, 
and this would be a prolix affair, I shall be readily excused 
if in a work like this, which is only preliminary, I content 
myself with these outlines. 


Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing 
admiration and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect 
on them : the starry heavens above and the moral law within. I 
have not to search for them and conjecture them as though 
they were veiled in darkness or were in the transcendent region 
beyond my horizon ; I see them before me and connect them 
directly with the consciousness of my existence. The former 
begins from the place I occupy in the external world of sense, 
and enlarges (313) my connexion therein to an unbounded extent 
with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems, and moreover 
into limitless times of their periodic motion, its beginning and 
continuance. The second begins from my invisible self, my 
personality, and exhibits me in a world which has true infinity, 
but which is traceable only by the understanding, and with 
which I discern that I am not in a merely contingent but in a 
universal and necessary connexion, as I am also thereby with 
all those visible worlds. The former view of a countless 
multitude of worlds annihilates, as it were, my importance as 
an animal creature, which after it has been for a short time 
provided with vital power, one knows not how, must again 
give back the matter of which it was formed to the planet it 
inhabits (a mere speck in the universe). The second, on the 
contrary, infinitely elevates my worth as an intelligence by my 
personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life 
independent on animality and even on the whole sensible 
world at least so far as may be inferred from the destination 
assigned to my existence by this law, a destination not restricted 
to conditions and limits of this life, but reaching into the infinite. 


But though admiration and respect may excite to inquiry, 
they cannot supply the want of it. What, then, is to be done in 
order to enter on this in a useful manner and one adapted to 
the loftiness of the subject ? Examples may serve in this as a 
warning, and also for imitation. The contemplation of the 
world began from the noblest spectacle that the human senses 
present to us, and that our understanding can bear to follow in 
their vast reach ; and it ended in astrology. Morality began 
with the noblest attribute of human nature, the development 
and cultivation of which give a prospect of infinite utility ; and 
ended in fanaticism or superstition (SH). So it is with all 
crude attempts where the principal part of the business depends 
on the use of reason, a use which does not come of itself, like 
the use of the feet, by frequent exercise, especially when attri 
butes are in question which cannot be directly exhibited in 
Common experience. But after the maxim had come into vogue, 
though late, to examine carefully beforehand all the steps that 
reason purposes to take, and not to let it proceed otherwise than 
in the track of a previously well-considered method, then the 
study of the structure of the universe took quite a different 
direction, and thereby attained an incomparably happier result. 
The fall of a stone, the motion of a sling, resolved into their 
elements and the forces that are manifested in them, and treated 
mathematically, produced at last that clear and henceforward 
unchangeable insight into the system of the world, which as 
observation is continued may hope always to extend itself, but 
need never fear to be compelled to retreat. 

This example may suggest to us to enter on the same path 
in treating of the moral capacities of our nature, and may give 
us hope of a like good result. We have at hand the instances 
of the moral judgment of reason. By analysing these into 
their elementary conceptions, and in default of mathematics 
adopting a process similar to that of chemistry, the separation of 
the empirical from the rational elements that may be found in 
them, by repeated experiments on common sense, we may exhibit 
both pure, and learn with certainty what each part can accom 
plish of itself, so as to prevent on the one hand the errors of a 

262 CONCLUSION. [31o] 

still crude untrained judgment, and on the other hand (what is 
far more necessary) the extravagances of genius, by which, as by 
the adepts of the philosopher s stone, without any methodical 
study or knowledge of nature, visionary treasures are pro 
mised (315) and the true are thrown away. In one word, science 
(critically undertaken and methodically directed) is the narrow 
gate that leads to the true doctrine of practical wisdom, 1 if we 
understand by this not merely what one ought to do, but what 
ought to serve teachers as a guide to construct well and clearly 
the road to wisdom which everyone should travel, and to secure 
others from going astray. Philosophy must always continue to 
be the guardian of this science ; and although the public does 
not take any interest in its subtle investigations, it must take an 
interest in the resulting doctrines, which such an examination 
first puts in a clear light. 

\_Weisheitslehre, vernacular German for Philosophy. See p. 203.] 










rPHE appetitive faculty is the faculty of being by means of 
one s ideas the cause of the objects of these ideas. 1 The 
faculty which a being has of acting according to its ideas is 
Life. Firstly Desire or aversion has always connected with 
it pleasure or displeasure, the susceptibility to which is called 

1 ["To this definition it has been objected, that it comes to nothing 
as soon as we abstract from external conditions of the result of the desire. 
Yet even to the Idealist the appetitive faculty is something, although to 
him the external world is nothing. Answer : Is there not such a thing 
as an earnest longing which yet we are conscious is in vain (ex. gr. Would 
to God that man were still living !), and which, though it leads to no deed, 
is yet not without results, and has a powerful effect not indeed on outward 
things, but within the subject himself (making him ill)? A desire being 
an effort (nisus) to be, by means of one s ideas, a cause, still, even though 
the subject perceives the inadequacy of these to produce the desired effect, 
is always a causality at least within the subject. What causes the mistake 
here is this : that since the consciousness of our power generally (in the 
given case) is at the same time a consciousness of our poiverlessness in 
respect to the outer world, the definition is not applicable to the Idealist, 
although as here we are speaking only of the relation of a cause (the idea) 
to the effect (feeling), the causality of the idea in respect of its object 
(whether that causality be internal or external) must inevitably be 
included in the conception of the appetitive faculty." Eechtslehre, 
Anhang (to second edition), p. 130.] 


feeling. But the converse does not always hold ; for a pleasure 
may exist which is not connected with any desire of the object, 
but with the mere idea which one frames to one s self of an 
object, no matter whether its object exists or not. Secondly 
The pleasure or displeasure in the object of the desire does not 
always precede the desire, and cannot always be regarded as its 
cause, but must sometimes be looked on as the effect thereof. 

Now, the capability of having pleasure or displeasure in an 
idea is called feeling, because both contain what is merely sub 
jective in relation to our idea (10), and have no relation to an 
object so as to contribute to the possible cognition of it 1 (not 
even the cognition of our own state) ; whereas in other cases 
sensations, apart from the quality which belongs to them in 
consequence of the nature of the subject (ex. gr. red, sweet, etc.), 
may yet have relation to an object, and constitute part of our 
knowledge; but pleasure or displeasure (in the red or sweet) 
expresses absolutely nothing in the object, but simply a relation 
to the subject. Pleasure and displeasure cannot be more closely 
defined, for the reason just given. We can only specify what 
consequences they have in certain circumstances so as to make 
them cognizable in practice. The pleasure which is necessarily 
connected with the desire of the object whose idea affects feeling 
may be called practical pleasure, whether it is cause or effect of 
the desire. On the contrary, the pleasure which is not neces- 

1 We might define sensibility as the subjective element in our ideas ; 
for it is the understanding that first refers the ideas to an object ; i.e. it 
alone thinks somewhat by means thereof. Now the subjective element of 
our idea may be of such a kind that it can also be referred to an object 
as contributory to the knowledge of it (either as to the form or the matter, 
being called in the former case intuition, in the latter sensation). In this 
case sensibility, which is the susceptibility to the idea in question, is 
Sense. Or again, the subjective element of the idea may be such that it 
cannot become a piece of knowledge, inasmuch aa it contains merely the 
relation of this idea to the subject, and nothing that is useful for the 
knowledge of the object ; and in this case this susceptibility to the idea is 
called Feeling, which contains the effect of the idea (whether sensible or 
intellectual) on the subject, and this belongs to the sensibility, even 
though the idea itself may belong to the understanding or the reason. 


sarily connected with the desire of the object, and which, there 
fore, is at bottom not a pleasure in the existence of the object 
of the idea, but clings to the idea only, may be called mere 
contemplative pleasure or passive satisfaction (n). The feeling 
of the latter kind of pleasure we call taste. Accordingly, in a 
practical philosophy we can treat this only episodically, not as a 
notion properly belonging to that philosophy. But as regards 
the practical pleasure, the determination of the appetitive 
faculty which is caused, and therefore necessarily preceded by 
this pleasure, is called appetite in the strict sense, and habitual, 
appetite is called inclination. The connexion of pleasure with 
the appetitive faculty, in so far as this connexion is judged by 
the understanding to hold good by a general rule (though only 
for the subject, is called interest, and hence in this case the 
practical pleasure is an interest of inclination. On the other 
hand, if the pleasure can only follow an antecedent determina 
tion of the appetitive faculty, it is an intellectual pleasure, and 
the interest in the object must be called an interest of reason. 
For if the interest were one of sense, and not merely founded 
on pure principles of reason, sensation must be joined with 
pleasure, and thus be able to determine the appetitive faculty. 
Although where a merely pure interest of reason must be as 
sumed, no interest of inclination can be substituted for it, yet 
in order to accommodate ourselves to common speech, we may 
admit an inclination e.ven to that which can only be the object 
of an intellectual pleasure that is to say, a habitual desire 
from a pure interest of reason. This, however, would not be 
the cause but the effect of the latter interest, and we might 
call it the sense-free inclination (propensio intellectualis). Fur 
ther, concupiscence is to be distinguished from the desire itself 
as being the stimulus to its determination. It is always a 
sensible state of mind, but one which has not yet arrived at an 
act of the appetitive faculty. 

The appetitive faculty which depends on concepts, in so far 
as the ground of its determination to action is found in itself (12), 
not in the object, is called a faculty of doing or forbearing as ice 
please. In so far as it is combined with the consciousness of 


the power of its action to produce its object, it is called 
" elective will" \Willkiihr = arbitrium\\ if not so combined, its 
act is called a wish, 1 The appetitive faculty, whose inner 
determining principle, and, consequently, even its " good plea 
sure " (Bdieberi), is found in the reason of the subject, is called 
the Rational Will [Wille]. Accordingly the Rational Will is 
the appetitive faculty, not (like the elective will) in relation to 
the action, but rather in relation to what determines the elective 
will [Willkiihr] to the action ; and it has properly itself no 
determining ground ; but in so far as it can determine the 
elective will, it is practical reason itself. \/ 

Under the will may be included the elective will [Willkiihr], 
and even mere wish, inasmuch as reason can determine the 
appetitive faculty ; and the elective will, which can be deter 
mined by pure reason, is called free elective will. That which 
is determinable only by inclination would be animal elective 
will (arbitrium brutum). Human elective will, on the contrary, 
is one which is affected but not determined by impulses. It is 
accordingly in itself (apart from acquired practice of reason) 
not pure ; but it can be determined to actions by the pure will. 
Freedom of the elective will is just that independence of its 
determination on sensible impulses : this is the negative con 
cept of it. The positive is : the power of pure reason to be 

1 [This important distinction is here explicitly made for the first time. 
In the earlier treatises, the word " Wille " covers both significations. In 
writing the "Kritik," Kant saw that much confusion of thought was 
traceable to the use of the same word for two very different things, and 
in that treatise he sometimes uses " Willkiihr." His use of the term is, 
of course, his own. In the last treatise in the present volume the word 
" Wille " occurs only once or twice. In default of an English word suit 
able to be appropriated to the signification of Kant s " Willkiihr," I have 
adopted the compound term "elective will," reserving "rational will" 
for " Wille." Although the distinction has not been fixed in appropriate 
terms, it has been felt and more or less obscurely indicated by many 
moralists. Indeed, it is implied in St. Paul s Epistle to the Romans, 
ch. vii., where, for instance, in ver. 15, the subject of 8(\<a is I as "Wille," 
while that of iroicD is I as " Willkiihr." Compare the words of Kant on the 
corrupt heart coexisting with the good " Wille," p. 352.] 


of itself practical. Now this is possible only by the subordi 
nation of the maxim of every action to the condition of fitness 
for universal law. For being pure reason it is directed to 
the elective will, irrespective of the object of this will. Now 
it is the faculty of principles (in this case practical principles, 
so that it is a legislative faculty) (13) ; and since it is not pro 
vided with the matter of the law, there is nothing which it can 
make the supreme law and determining ground of the elective 
will except the form, consisting in the fitness of the maxim 
of the elective will to be a universal law. And since from 
subjective causes the maxims of men do not of themselves 
coincide with those objective maxims, it can only prescribe 
this law as an imperative of command or prohibition. 

These laws of freedom are called, in contradistinction to 
physical laws, moral laivs. In so far as they are directed to 
mere external actions and their lawfulness, they are called 
judicial ; but when they demand that these laws themselves 
shall be the determining ground of the actions, they are ethical, 
and in this case we say the agreement with the former consti 
tutes the legality, agreement with the latter the morality of the 
action. The freedom to which the former laws relate can only 
be freedom in its external exercise ; but the freedom to which 
the latter refer is freedom both in the internal and external 
exercise of the elective will in as far, namely, as this elective 
will is determined by laws of reason. Similarly, in theoretic 
philosophy we say, that only the abjects of the outer senses are 
in space, while the objects both of the external and of the 
interrfal sense are in time ; because the ideas of both are still 
ideas, and for this reason all belong to the inner sense. Just 
so, whether we regard freedom in the external or the internal 
exercise of the elective will, in either case its laws, being pure 
practical laws of reason governing free elective will generally, 
must be also its internal grounds of determination ; although 
they need not always be considered in this point of view. 




(14) It has been shown elsewhere that for physical science, 
which has to do with the objects of the external senses, we 
must have d priori principles ; and that it is possible nay, 
even necessary to prefix a system of these principles under 
the name of metaphysical principles of natural philosophy to 
physics, which is natural philosophy applied to special pheno 
mena of experience. The latter, however (at least when the 
question is to guard its propositions from error), may assume 
many principles as universal on the testimony of experience, 
although the former, if it is to be in the strict sense universal, 
must be deduced from a priori grounds ; just as Kewton 
adopted the principle of the equality of action and reaction as 
based on experience, and yet extended it to all material nature. 
The chemists go still further, and base their most universal 
laws of combination and dissociation of substances by their 
own forces entirely on experience, and yet they have such 
confidence in their universality and necessity that, in the 
experiments they make with them, they have no apprehension 
of error. 

It is otherwise with the moral laws. These are valid as 
laws only so far as they have an a priori basis and can be seen 
to be necessary ; nay, the concepts and judgments about our 
selves and our actions and omissions have no moral significance 
at all, if they contain only what can be learned from ex 
perience ; and should one be so misled as to make into a 
moral principle anything derived from this source, he would 
be in danger of the grossest and most pernicious errors. 

If the science of morals were nothing but the science of 
happiness, it would be unsuitable to look out for a priori prin 
ciples on which to rest it. For however plausible it may sound 
to say that reason could discern, even before experience, by 
what means one might attain a lasting enjoyment of the true 
pleasures of life, yet everything which is taught on this subject 


d priori is either tautological or assumed without any founda 
tion. It is experience alone that can teach us what gives us 
pleasure (15). The natural impulses to nutrition, to the propa 
gation of the species, the desire of rest, of motion, and (in the 
development of our natural capacities) the desire of honour, of 
knowledge, &c., can alone teach, and moreover teach each 
individual in his own special way, in what to place those plea 
sures; and it is these also that can teach him the means by 
which he must seek them. All plausible d priori reasoning is 
here at bottom nothing but experience raised to generality by 
induction : a generality, too, so meagre that everyone must be 
allowed many exceptions, in order to make the choice of his 
mode of life suitable to his special inclination and his suscepti 
bility for pleasure ; so that after all he must become wise only 
by his own or others loss. It is not so with the doctrines of 
morality. They are imperative for everyone without regard to 
his inclinations, solely because and so far as he is free, and has 
practical reason. Instruction in its laws is not drawn from 
observation of himself and his animal part ; not from percep 
tion of the course of the world, from that which happens and 
from the way in which men act (although the German word 
" sitten," like the Latin mores, signifies only manners and 
mode of life) ; but reason commands how men should act, even 
although no instance of such action could be found ; moreover, 
it pays no regard to the advantage which we may hereby 
attain, which certainly can only be learned by experience. For 
although it allows us to seek our advantage in every way that 
we can ; and in addition, pointing to the testimony of expe 
rience, can promise us, probably and on the whole, greater 
advantages from following its commands than from transgres 
sion of them, especially if obedience is accompanied by pru 
dence, yet the authority of its precepts as commands does not 
rest on this (ie). Eeason uses such facts only (by way of 
counsel) as a counterpoise to the temptations to the opposite, 
in order, first of all, to compensate the error of an unfair 
balance, so that it may then assure a due preponderance to the 
d priori grounds of a pure practical reason. 


If, therefore, we give the name Metapliysic to a system of 
d priori knowledge derived from mere concepts, then a practical 
philosophy, which has for its object not nature but freedom of 
choice, will presuppose and require a metaphysic of morals: 
that is, to have it is itself a duty, and, moreover, every man has 
it in himself, though commonly only in an obscure way ; for 
without -a priori principles how could he believe that he has in 
him a universal law-giving ? Moreover, just as in the meta 
physic of natural philosophy there must be principles touching 
the application to objects of experience of those supreme uni 
versal laws of a physical system generally, so also a metaphysic 
of morals cannot dispense with similar principles ; and we shall 
often have to take the special nature of man, which can only be 
known by experience, as our object, in order to exhibit in it the 
consequences of the universal moral principles; but this will 
not detract from the purity of the latter nor cast any doubt 
on their d priori origin that is to say, a Metaphysic of 
Morals cannot be founded on anthropology, but may be applied 
to it. 

The counterpart of a metaphysic of morals, namely, the 
second subdivision of practical philosophy generally, would be 
moral anthropology, which would contain the subjective con 
ditions favourable and unfavourable to carrying out the laws of 
the power in human nature. It would treat of the production, 
the propagation, and strengthening of moral principles (in edu 
cation, school and popular instruction) (17), and other like 
doctrines and precepts based on experience, which cannot be 
dispensed with, but which must not come before the metaphysic, 
nor be mixed with it. For to do so would be to run the risk of 
eliciting false or at least indulgent moral laws, which would 
represent that as unattainable which has only not been 
attained because the law has not been discerned and proclaimed 
in its purity (the very thing in which its strength consists) ; 
or else because men make use of spurious or mixed motives to 
what is itself good and dutiful, and these allow no certain moral 
principles to remain ; but this anthropology is not to be used as 
a standard of judgment, nor as a discipline of the mind in its 


obedience to duty ; for the precept of duty must be given solely 
by pure reason a priori. 

Now with respect to the division to which that just men 
tioned is subordinate, namely, the division of philosophy into 
theoretical and practical, I have explained myself sufficiently 
elsewhere (in the Critical Examination of the Faculty of Judg 
ment), 1 and have shown that the latter branch can be nothing 
else than moral philosophy. Everything practical which con 
cerns what is possible according to physical laws (the proper 
business of Art) depends for its precept on the theory of phy 
sical nature ; that only which is practical in accordance with 
laws of freedom can have principles that do not depend on any 
theory ; for there can be no theory of that which transcends the 
properties of physical nature. Hence by the practical part of 

1 [" When Philosophy, as containing principles of the rational know 
ledge of things through concepts (not merely, as Logic does, principles of 
the form of thought in general without distinction of its objects), is 
divided into theoretical and practical, this is quite right ; but, then, the 
concepts which assign to the principles of this rational knowledge their 
object must be specifically distinct, otherwise they would not justify a 
division which always presupposes a contrast of the principles of the 
rational knowledge belonging to the different parts of a science. 

Now there are only two kinds of concepts, and these admit as many 
distinct principles of possibility of their object, namely, physical concepts 
and the concept of freedom. Now as the former make possible a theoreti 
cal knowledge on a priori principles, whereas in respect of these the latter 
only conveys in its concept a negative principle (that of mere contrast) ; 
while, on the other hand, it establishes principles for the determination of 
the will, which, therefore, are called practical ; hence philosophy is rightly 
divided into two parts with quite distinct principles the theoretical, 
which is natural philosophy, and the practical, which is moral philosophy 
(for so we name the practical legislation of reason according to the concept 
of freedom). Hitherto, however, there has .prevailed a gross misuse of 
these expressions in the division of the different principles, and conse 
quently also of philosophy ; inasmuch as what is practical according to 
physical concepts has been assumed to be of the same kind as what is 
practical according to the concept of freedom ; and thus, with the same 
denominations of theoretical and practical philosophy, a division is 
made by which nothing is really divided (since both parts might have 
principles of the same kind)." Kritik der Urthetiskraft, Einl. p. 8.] 



philosophy (co-ordinate with its theoretical part) we are to 
understand not any technical doctrine, but a morally practical 
doctrine ; and if the habit of choice, according to laws of free 
dom, in contrast to physical laws, is here also to be called art, 
we must understand thereby such an art as would make a system 
of freedom like a system of nature possible ; truly a divine art, 
were we in a condition to fulfil by means of reason the precepts 
of reason, and to carry its Ideal into actuality. 



All legislation (whether it prescribes internal or external 
actions, and these either d priori by pure reason or by the will 
of another) involves two things: first, a law, which objectively 
presents the action that is to be done as necessary, i.e. makes 
it a duty ; secondly, a spring, which subjectively connects with 
the idea of the law the motive determining the elective will 
to this action ; hence, the second element is this, that the law 
makes duty the spring. By the former the action is presented 
as duty, and this is a mere theoretical knowledge of the possible 
determination of the elective will, i.e. of practical rules ; by the 
latter, the obligation so to act is connected with a motive which 
determines the elective will generally in the agent. 

Accordingly, all legislation may be divided into two classes 
in respect of the springs employed (and this whether the 

1 The deduction of the division of a system : that is, the proof of its 
completeness as well as of its continuity, namely, that the transition from 
the notion divided to each member of the division in the whole series of 
subdivisions does not take place per saltum, is one of the most difficult 
tasks of the constructor of a system. It is even difficult to say what is the 
ultimate notion of which right and wrmig (fas ant nefas} are divisions. It 
is the act of free choice in general. So teachers of ontology begin with the 
notions of something and nothing, without being aware that these are 
already members of a division of a higher notion which is not given, but 
which, in fact, can only be the notion of an object in general. 


actions prescribed are the same or not : as, for instance, the 
actions might be in all cases external) (19). That legislation 
which at once makes an action a duty, and makes this duty 
the spring, is ethical. That which does not include the latter 
in the law, and therefore admits a spring different from the 
idea of duty itself, is juridical. As regards the latter, it is 
easily seen that this spring, which is distinct from the idea of 
duty, must be derived from the pathological motives of choice, 
namely, the inclinations and aversions, and amongst these 
from the latter, since it is a legislation, which must be con 
straining, not an invitation, which is persuasive. 

The mere agreement or disagreement of an action with the 
law, without regard to the motive from which the action springs, 
is called legality ; but when the idea of duty arising from the 
law is also the motive of the action, the agreement is called 
the morality of the action. 

Duties arising from forensic legislation can only be external 
duties, because this legislation does not require that the idea 
of this duty, which is internal, shall be of itself the motive of 
the elective will of the agent ; and as it nevertheless requires 
a suitable spring, it can only connect external springs with the 
law. On the other hand, ethical legislation, while it makes 
internal actions duties, does not exclude external actions, but 
applies generally to everything that is duty. But just because 
ethical legislation includes in its law the inner spring of the 
action (the idea of duty), a property which cannot belong to 
the external legislation; hence ethical legislation cannot be 
external (not even that of a divine will), although it may adopt 
duties which rest on external legislation, and take them 
regarded as duties into its own legislation as springs of action. 

(20) From hence we may see that all duties belong to 
Ethics, simply because they are duties ; but it does not follow 
that their legislation is always included in Ethics : in the case of 
many duties it is quite outside Ethics. Thus Ethics requires 
that I should fulfil my pledged word, even though the other 
party could not compel me to do so; but the law (pacta sunt 
servanda) and the corresponding duty are taken by Ethics from 



jurisprudence. Accordingly, it is not in Ethics but in Jus that 
the legislation is contained which enjoins that promises be kept. 
Ethics teaches only that even if the spring were absent which 
is connected by forensic legislation with that duty, namely, ex 
ternal compulsion, yet the idea of duty would alone be sufficient 
as a spring. For if this were not so, and if the legislation 
itself were not forensic, and the duty arising from it not pro 
perly a legal duty (in contrast to a moral duty), then faithful 
ness to one s engagements would be put in the same class as 
actions of benevolence and the obligation to them, which cannot 
be admitted. It is not an ethical duty to keep one s promise, 
but a legal duty, one that we can be compelled to perform. 
Nevertheless, it is a virtuous action (a proof of virtue) to do 
so, even where no compulsion is to be apprehended. Law and 
morals, therefore, are distinguished not so much by the diversity 
of their duties, but rather by the diversity of the legislation 
which connects this or that motive with the law. 

Ethical legislation is that which cannot be.external (although 
the duties may be external) ; forensic legislation is that which 
can be external. Thus to keep one s contract is an external 
duty; but the command (21) to do this merely because it is 
a duty, without regard to any other motive, belongs only to the 
internal legislation. Accordingly, the obligation is reckoned as 
belonging to Ethics, not as being a special kind of duty (a 
special kind of actions to which one is bound) for in Ethics as 
well as in law we have external duties but because in the 
supposed case the legislation is an internal one, and can have 
no external lawgiver. For the same reason duties of benevo 
lence, although they are external duties (obligations to external 
actions), are yet reckoned as belonging to Ethics because the 
legislation imposing them can only be internal. No doubt 
Ethics has also duties peculiar to itself (ex. or. duties to our 
selves), but it also has duties in common with law, only the 
kind of obligation is different. For it is the peculiarity of 
ethical legislation to perform actions solely because they are 
duties, and to make the principle of duty itself the adequate 
spring of the will, no matter whence the duty may be derived. 


Hence, while there are many directly ethical duties, the internal 
legislation makes all others indirectly ethical. 



(Philosophies practice/, universalis.) 

The concept of Freedom is a pure concept of the reason, and 
on this account it is as regards theoretical philosophy trans 
cendent, that is, a concept for which there is no corresponding 
example in any possible experience, which therefore forms no 
object of any theoretic knowledge possible to us, and is valid 
not as a constitutive, but simply as a regulative principle of 
pure speculative reason, and that a negative one ; but in the 
practical exercise of reason it proves its reality by practical 
principles (22), which being laws of causality of pure reason, 
determine the elective will independently on all empirical con 
ditions (sensible conditions generally), and prove the existence 
of a pure will in us in which the moral concepts and laws have 
their origin. 

On this concept of freedom, which (in a practical aspect) 
is positive, are founded unconditional practical laws which are 
called moral, and these, in respect of us, whose elective will is 
sensibly affected, and therefore does not of itself correspond 
with the pure will, but often opposes it, are imperatives (com 
mands or prohibitions), and, moreover, are categorical (uncon 
ditional) imperatives, by which they are distinguished from 
technical imperatives (precepts of art), which always give only 
conditional commands. By these imperatives certain actions 
are permitted or not permitted, that is, are morally possible 
or impossible ; some, however, or their opposites, are morally 
necessary, that is, obligatory. Hence arises the notion of a 
duty, the obeying or transgressing of which is, indeed, con 
nected with a pleasure or displeasure of a peculiar kind (that 


of a moral feeling}, of which, however, we can take no account 
in the practical laws of reason, since they do not concern the 
foundation of the practical laws, but only the subjective effect in 
the mind when our elective will is determined by these ; and 
they may be very different in different persons without adding 
to or taking from the validity or influence of these laws 
objectively, that is, in the judgment of the reason. 

The following notions are common to both parts of the 
Metaphysic of Morals : 

Obligation is the necessity of a free action under a cate 
gorical imperative of reason. The Imperative is a practical 
rule by which an action in itself contingent is made necessary ; 
it is distinguished from a practical law by this (23), that while 
the latter exhibits the necessity of the action, it takes no 
account of the consideration whether this already inheres by an 
internal necessity in the agent (say, a holy being), or whether, 
as in man, it is contingent ; for where the former is the case 
there is no imperative. Accordingly, the imperative is a rule, 
the conception of which makes necessary an action that is sub 
jectively contingent, and hence represents the subject as one 
who must be constrained (necessitated) to agreement with this 
rule. The categorical (unconditional) imperative is one that 
does not command indirectly through the idea of an end that 
can be attained by the action, but immediately, through the 
mere conception of this action itself (its form), thinks it as 
objectively necessary and makes it necessary. 

Xo example of an imperative of this kind can be supplied by 
any other practical doctrine but that which prescribes obligation 
(the doctrine of morals). All other imperatives are technical 
and conditioned. The ground of the possibility of categorical 
imperatives lies in this, that they refer to no other property 
of the elective will (by which any purpose could be ascribed to 
it), but only to its freedom. An action is allowed (licitum) 
which is not contrary to obligation ; and this freedom which 
is not limited by any opposed imperative is called right of 
action (facv.lto.s moralis) [Befugniss]. Hence it is obvious 
what is meant by disallowed (illicituni). 


Duty is the action to which a person is bound. It is there 
fore the matter of obligation, and it may be one and the same 
duty (as to the action), although the obligation to it may be of 
different kinds. 

The categorical imperative, since it expresses an obligation 
in respect of certain actions, is a moral practical law. But since 
obligation contains not only practical necessity (24) (which law 
in general expresses), but also constraint, the imperative men 
tioned is either a law of command or of prohibition according 
as the performance or omission is represented as duty. An 
action which is neither commanded nor forbidden is merely 
allowed, because in respect of it there is no law limiting freedom 
(right of action), and therefore also no duty. Such an action 
is called morally indifferent (indifferens, adiaphoron, res meres 
facultatis}. It may be asked : are there any such, and if there 
are, then in order that one may be free to do or forbear a thing 
as he pleases, must there be, besides the law of command (lex 
prceceptiva, lex mandati) and the law of prohibition (lex pro- 
hibitiva, lex vetiti), also a law of permission (lex permissiva] ? If 
this is the case, then the right of action would not be concerned 
with an indifferent action (adiaphoron) ; for if such an action is 
considered according to moral laws, it could not require any 
special law. 

An action is called a deed, in so far as it comes under laws 
of obligation, and, consequently, in so far as the subject is 
regarded in it according to the freedom of his elective will, the 
agent is regarded as by such an act the author of the effect, 
and this, along with the action itself, may be imputed to him if 
he is previously acquainted with the law by virtue of which an 
obligation rests on him. 

A Person is the subject whose actions are capable of imputa 
tion. Hence moral personality is nothing but the freedom of a 
rational being under moral laws (whereas psychological person 
ality is merely the power of being conscious to oneself of the 
identity of one s existence in different circumstances). Hence 
it follows that a person is subject to no other laws than those 
which he (either alone or jointly with others) gives to himself. 


(25) That which is not capable of any imputation is called a 
Thing. Every object of free elective will .which is not itself 
possessed of freedom is, therefore, called a thing (res corporalis). 

A deed is Eight or Wrong in general (rectum aut minus 
rectum}, according as it is consistent or inconsistent with duty 
(factum licitum aut illicitum), no matter what the content or 
the origin of the duty may be. A deed inconsistent with duty 
is called transgression (reatus). 

An unintentional transgression, which, however, may be 
imputed, is called mere fault (culpa). An intentional trans 
gression (that is, one which is accompanied by the consciousness 
that it is transgression) is called crime (dolus). That which is 
right according to external laws is called just (justum) ; what is 
not so is unjust (injustum}. 

A conflict of duties (collisio ojjiciorum scu obligationuni) would 
be such a relation between them that one would wholly or 
partially abolish the other. Now as duty and obligation are 
notions which express the objective practical necessity of certain 
actions, and as two opposite rules cannot be necessary at the 
same time, but if it is a duty to act according to one of them, 
it is then not only not a duty but inconsistent with duty to act 
according to the other ; it follows that a conflict of duties and 
obligations is inconceivable (cibligationcs non colliduntur). It 
may, however, very well happen, that in the same subject and 
the rule which he prescribes to himself there are conjoined two 
grounds of obligation (rationes obligandi}, of which, however, one 
or the other is inadequate to oblige (rationes obligandi non obli 
gates}, and then one of them is not a duty. When two such 
grounds are in conflict, practical philosophy does not say that 
the stronger obligation prevails (fortior oUigatio vincit), but the 
stronger (/round of obligation prevails (fortior obligandi ratio 

(26) Binding laws, for which an external lawgiving is 
possible, are called in general external laws (leges externcc}. 
Amongst these the laws, the obligation to which can be re 
cognized by reason a priori, even without external legislation, 
are natural though external laws ; those, on the contrary, which 


without actual external legislation would not bind at all (and, 
therefore, would, not be laws) are called positive laws. It is 
possible, therefore, to conceive an external legislation which 
would only contain [positive] 1 laws ; but then a natural law must 
precede, which should supply the ground of the authority of 
the lawgiver (that is, his right to bind others by his mere will). 

The principle which makes certain actions a duty is a prac 
tical law. The rule which the agent adopts from subjective 
grounds as his principle is called his Maxim ; hence with the 
same laws the maxims of the agents may be very different. 

The categorical imperative, which only expresses in general 
what obligation is, is this : Act according to a maxim which 
can at the same time hold good as a universal law. You must, 
therefore, examine your actions in the first place as to their 
subjective principle ; but whether this principle is also objec 
tively valid can only be recognized by this, that when your 
reason puts it to the test of conceiving yourself as giving 
therein a universal law, it is found to be adapted to this 
universal legislation. 

The simplicity of this law, compared with the great and 
manifold requirements which can be drawn from it, must at 
first appear surprising, as must also the authoritative dignity 
it presents, without carrying with it perceptibly any motive. 

(2?) But when, in this astonishment at the power of our reason 
to determine choice by the mere idea of the fitness of a maxim 
for the universality of a practical law, we learn that it is just 
these practical (moral) laws that first make known a property 
of the will which speculative reason could never have arrived at, 
either from d priori grounds or from experience and if it did 
arrive at it could by no means prove its possibility, whereas 
those practical laws incontestably prove this property, namely, 
freedom then we shall be less surprised to find these laws, 
like mathematical axioms, undemonstrable and yet apodictic, 
and at the same time to see a whole field of practical cognitions 

1 [The original has natural. The emendation, which is clearly neces 
sary, was suggested to me by Mr. Philip Sandford.] 


opened before us, in which reason in its theoretic exercise, with 
the same idea of freedom, nay, with any other of its supersen 
sible ideas, must find everything absolutely closed to it. The 
agreement of an action with the law of duty is its legality 
(legalitas) ; that of the maxim with the law is its morality 
(moralitas). Maxim is the subjective principle of action, which 
the subject makes a rule to itself (namely, how he chooses to 
act). On the contrary, the principle of duty is that which 
Keason commands him absolutely and therefore objectively 
(how he ought to act). The supreme principle of the order is 
therefore : Act on a maxim which can also hold good as a uni 
versal law. Every maxim which is not capable of being so is 
contrary to morality. 

Laws proceed from the Eational Will ; maxims from the 
elective will. The latter is in man a free elective will. The 
Kational Will, which is directed to nothing but the law only, 
cannot be called either free or unfree, because it is not directed 
to actions, but immediately to the legislation for the maxims of 
actions (and is therefore practical reason itself). Consequently 
it is absolutely necessary, and is even incapable of constraint. 
(28) It is therefore only the elective will that can be called 

Freedom of elective will, however, cannot be defined as the 
power of choosing to act for or against the law (libertas indi/e- 
rentice),&s some have attempted to define it; although the elective 
will as a phenomenon gives many examples of this in experience. 
For freedom (as it becomes known to us first through the moral 
law) is known to us only as a negative property in us, namely, 
the property of not being constrained to action by any sensible 
motives. Considered as a noumenon, however, that is, as to the 
faculty of man merely as an intelligence, we are quite unable 
to explain theoretically how it has a constraining power in respect 
of the sensible elective will that is, we cannot explain it in its 
positive character. Only this we can very readily understand : 
that although experience tells us that man as an object in the 
sensible world shows a power of choosing not only according to 
the law but also in opposition to it, nevertheless his freedom as a 


being in the intelligible world cannot be thus defined, since phe 
nomena can never enable us to comprehend any supersensible 
object (such as free elective will is). "We can see also that 
freedom can never be placed in this, that the rational subject is 
able to choose in opposition to his (legislative) reason, even 
though experience proves often enough that this does happen 
(a thing, however, the possibility of which we cannot compre 
hend). For it is one thing to admit a fact (of experience) ; it is 
another to make it the principle of a definition (in the present 
case, of the concept of free elective will) and the universal 
criterion between this and arbitrmm brutum seu servum ; since 
in the former case we do not assert that the mark necessarily 
belongs to the concept, which we must do in the latter case. 
Freedom in relation to the inner legislation of the reason is 
alone properly a power ; the possibility of deviating from this 
is an impotence. How, then, can the former be defined from the 
latter ? (29) A definition which over and above the practical 
concept adds the exercise of it as learned from experience is a 
bastard definition (definitio hybrida) which puts the notion in a 
false light. 

A Law (a moral practical law) is a proposition which con 
tains a categorical imperative (a command). He who gives 
commands by a law (imperans) is the lawgiver (legislator). He 
is the author (auctor) of the obligation imposed by the law, but 
not always author of the law. If he were so, the law would be 
positive (contingent) and arbitrary. The law which binds us 
d priori and unconditionally by our own reason may also be 
expressed as proceeding from the will of a Supreme Lawgiver, 
that is of one who has only rights and no duties (namely, from 
the Divine Will). But this only involves the idea of a moral 
being whose will is law for all, without his being conceived as 
the author of it. 

Imputation (imputatio) in the moral sense is the judgment by 
which anyone is regarded as the author (causa libera) of an 
action, which is then called a deed (factum), and to which laws 
are applicable; and if this judgment brings with it the legal 
consequences of this deed, it is a judicial imputation (imputatio 


judiciaria s. valida), otherwise it is only discriminating impu 
tation (imputatio dijudicatoria). The person (whether physical 
or moral) who has right to exercise judicial imputation is called 
the judge or the court (judex s. forum). 

What anyone does in accordance with duty beyond what he 
can be compelled to by the law is meritorious (meritum) ; what 
he does only just in accordance with the law is duty owed 
(debitum) ; lastly, what he does less than the law demands is 
moral demerit (demeritum). The legcd effect of demerit is 
punishment (pcena) \ that of a meritorious act, reward (prcemium) 
(so), provided that this, promised in the law, was the motive- 
Conduct which agrees with duty owed has no legal effect. Fair 
recompense (remuneratio s. repensio benefica] stands in no legal 
relation to the deed. 

The good or bad consequences of an obligatory action, or the 
consequences of omitting a meritorious action, cannot be imputed 
to the agent (modus imputationis tollens). 

The good consequences of a meritorious action, and the bad 
consequences of an unlawful action, can be imputed (modus 
imputationis ponens) . 

Subjectively considered, the degree of imputdbility (imputa- 
bilitas) of actions must be estimated by the greatness of the 
hindrances which have to be overcome. The greater the natural 
hindrances (of sensibility) and the less the moral hindrance (of 
duty), the higher the imputation of merit in a good deed. For 
example, if at a considerable sacrifice I rescue from great 
necessity one who is a complete stranger to myself. 

On the other hand, the less the natural hindrance, and the 
greater the hindrance from reasons of duty, so much the more 
is transgression imputed (as ill desert). Hence the state of 
mind of the agent, whether he acted in the excitement of 
passion or with cool deliberation, makes an important difference 
in imputation. 




TF there exists on any subject a philosophy (that is, a system 
-*- of rational knowledge based on concepts), then there must 
also be for this philosophy a system of pure rational concepts, 
independent on any condition of intuition in other words, a 
Metaphysic. It may be asked whether metaphysical elements 
are required also for every practical philosophy, which is the 
doctrine of duties [deontology], and therefore also for Ethics, in 
order to be able to present it as a true science (systematically), 
not merely as an aggregate of separate doctrines (f ragmentarily). 
As regards pure jurisprudence no one will question this require 
ment ; for it concerns only what is formal in the elective will, 
which has to be limited in its external relations according to 
laws of freedom ; without regarding any end which is the 
matter of this will. Here, therefore, deontology is a mere 
scientific doctrine (doctrina scienticB). 1 

1 One who is acquainted with practical philosophy is not, therefore, a 
practical philosopher. The latter is he who makes the rational end the 
principle of his actions, while at the same time he joins with this the 
necessary knowledge which, as it aims at action, must not be spun out 
into the most subtle threads of metaphysic, unless a legal duty is 
in question ; in which case meum and tuum must be accurately 
determined in the balance of justice (218), on the principle of 

286 PREFACE TO THE [219] 

(2is) Now in this philosophy (of Ethics) it seems contrary to 
the idea of it that we should go back to metaphysical elements in 
order to make the notion of duty purified from everything 
empirical (from every feeling) a motive of action. For what 
sort of notion can we form of the mighty power and herculean 
strength which would be sufficient to overcome the vice- 
breeding inclinations, if Virtue is to borrow her " arms from 
the armoury of metaphysics," which is a matter of speculation 
that only few men can handle ? Hence all ethical teaching in 
lecture-rooms, pulpits, and popular books, when it is decked 
out with .fragments of metaphysics, becomes ridiculous. But 
it is not, therefore, useless, much less ridiculous, to trace in 
metaphysics the first principles of Ethics ; for it is only as a 
philosopher that anyone can reach the first principles of this 
conception of duty, otherwise we could not look for either 
certainty or purity in the ethical teaching. To rely for this 
reason on a certain feeling [or sense], which, on account of the 
effect expected from it, is called moral, may, perhaps, even 
satisfy the popular teacher, provided he desires as the criterion 
of a moral duty to consider the problem : " If everyone in 
every case made your maxim the universal law, how could this 
law be consistent with itself ? " (219) But if it were merely 
feeling that made it our duty to take this principle as a 
criterion, then this would not be dictated by reason, but only 
adopted instinctively, and therefore blindly. 

But in fact, whatever men imagine, no moral principle is 
based on any feeling, but such a principle is really nothing else 
than an obscurely conceived metaphysic which inheres in every 
man s reasoning faculty ; as the teacher will easily find who 
tries to catechize his pupil in the Socratic method about the 

equality of action and reaction, which requires something like mathe 
matical proportion, but not in the case of a mere ethical duty. For in 
this case the question is not only to know what it is a duty to do (a thing 
which on account of the ends that all men naturally have can be easily 
decided), but the chief point is the inner principle of the will, namely, 
that the consciousness of this duty be also the spring of action, in order 
that we may be able to say of the man who joins to his knowledge this 
principle of wisdom, that he is a practical philosopher. 


imperative of duty and its application to the moral judgment 
of his actions. The mode of stating it need not be always 
metaphysical, and the language need not necessarily be scho 
lastic, unless the pupil is to be trained to be a philosopher. But 
the thought must go back to the elements of metaphysics, with 
out which we cannot expect any certainty or purity, or even 
motive-power in Ethics. 

If we deviate from this principle, and begin from patho 
logical, or purely sensitive, or even moral, feeling (from what is 
subjectively practical instead of what is objective), that is, from 
the matter of the will, the End, not from its form, that is, the 
law, in order from thence to determine duties ; then, certainly, 
there are no metaphysical elements of Ethics, for feeling, by what 
ever it may be excited, is always physical. But then ethical 
teaching, whether in schools or lecture-rooms, &c., is corrupted 
in its source. For it is not a matter of indifference by what 
motives or means one is led to a good purpose (the obedience 
to duty). However disgusting, then, metaphysics may appear to 
those pretended philosophers who dogmatize oracularly, or even 
brilliantly, about the doctrine of duty, it is, nevertheless, an 
indispensable duty for those who oppose it to go back to its 
principles, even in Ethics, and to begin by going to school 
on its benches. 

(220) We may fairly wonder how, after all previous expla 
nations of the principles of duty, so far as it is derived from 
pure reason, it was still possible to reduce it again to a doctrine 
of Happiness in such a way, however, that a certain moral 
happiness not resting on empirical causes was ultimately arrived 
at, a self-contradictory nonentity. In fact, when the thinking 
man has conquered the temptations to vice, and is conscious of 
having done his (often hard) duty, he finds himself in a state 
of peace and satisfaction which may well be called happiness, 
in which Virtue is her own reward. Now, says the Eudaemonist, 
this delight, this happiness, is the real motive of his acting 
virtuously. The notion of duty, says he, does not immediately 
determine his will ; it is only by means of the happiness in 

288 PREFACE TO THE [ 2 2l] 

prospect that he is moved to his duty. Now, on the other hand, 
since he can promise himself this reward of virtue only from 
the consciousness of having done his duty, it is clear that the 
latter must have preceded : that is, he must feel himself bound 
to do his duty before he thinks, and without thinking, that hap 
piness will be the consequence of obedience to duty. He is thus 
involved in a circle in his assignment of cause and effect. He can 
only hope to be happy if he is conscious of his obedience to 
duty : 1 and he can only be moved to obedience to duty if he 
foresees that he will thereby become happy. But in this 
reasoning there is also a contradiction. For, on the one side, 
he must obey his duty, without asking what effect this will 
have on his happiness, consequently, from a moral principle 
(221) ; on the other side, he can only recognize something as 
his duty when he can reckon on happiness which will accrue 
to him thereby, and consequently, on a pathological principle, 
which is the direct opposite of the former. 

I have in another place (the Berlin " Monatsschrift " 2 ), 

1 [Compare the remarks of Dr. Adams : " The pleasures of self- appro 
bation and esteem which follow virtue certainly arise from a conscious 
sense of having made virtue and not pleasure our choice ; not from 
preferring one interest or pleasure to another, but from acting according 
to right without any other consideration whatsoever. It seems essential 
to this pleasure that no motive of interest have any part in the choice or 
intention of the agent. And (2) To make this pleasure an object to the 
mind, the virtue whose principle we are seeking after must be already 
formed. For, let it be observed, that the pleasures we are speaking of 
are themselves virtuous pleasures ; such as none but virtuous minds are 
capable of proposing to themselves or of enjoying. To the sensual or 
voluptuous, the pleasures that arise from denying our appetites or 
passions have no existence. These cannot, therefore, be the motive to 
that virtue which is already presupposed. ... It is the same love of 
virtue which makes it first the object of our pursuit, and, when acquired, 
the subject of our triumph and joy. To do a virtuous action for the 
sake of these virtuous pleasures is to choose virtue for the sake of being 
virtuous, which is to rest in it as an end, or to pursue it without regard 
to any other object or interest." Sermon on the Obligation of Virtiie 
(1754), Note 2.] 

- [The essay referred to is that On the Radical Evil in Human 


reduced, as I believe, to the simplest expressions the distinction 
between pathological and moral pleasure. The pleasure, namely, 
which must precede the obedience to the law in order that one 
may act according to the law, is pathological, and the process 
follows the physical order of nature; that which must be preceded 
by the law in order that it may be felt is in the moral order. 
If this distinction is not observed; if eudaemonism (the prin 
ciple of happiness) is adopted as the principle instead of elcuth- 
eronomy (the principle of freedom of the inner legislation), the 
consequence is the euthanasia (quiet death) of all morality. 

The cause of these mistakes is no other than the following : 
Those who are accustomed only to physiological explanations 
will not admit into their heads the categorical imperative from 
which these laws dictatorially proceed, notwithstanding that they 
feel themselves irresistibly forced by it. Dissatisfied at not being 
able to explain what lies wholly beyond that sphere, namely, 
freedom of the elective will, elevating as is this privilege that 
man has of being capable of such an idea, they are stirred up 
by the proud claims of speculative reason, which feels its power 
so strongly in other fields, just as if they were allies leagued in 
defence of the omnipotence of theoretical reason, and roused by 
a general call to arms to resist that idea ; and thus at present, 
and perhaps for a long time to come, though ultimately in vain, 
to attack the moral concept of freedom, and if possible render it 


Ethics in ancient times signified moral philosophy (philosophia 
moralis \sittcnlehre] generally, which was also called the doctrine 
of duties [deontology]. Subsequently it was found advisable 
to confine this name to a part of moral philosophy, namely, to 
the doctrine of duties which are not subject to external laws 
(for which in German the name Tugendlehre was found suitable). 
Thus the system of general deontology is divided into that of 
Jurisprudence (Jiirisprudcntia], which is capable of external laws, 
and of Ethics, which is not thus capable, and we may let this 
division stand. 


290 PREFACE TO THE [223] 

I. Exposition of the Conception of Ethics. 

The notion of duty is in itself already the notion of a 
constraint of the free elective will by the law; whether this 
constraint be an external one or be self -constraint. The moral 
imperative, by its categorical (the unconditional " ought ") 
announces this constraint, which therefore does not apply to 
all rational beings (for there may also be holy beings), but 
applies to men as rational physical beings (223) who are unholy 
enough to be seduced by pleasure to the transgression of the 
moral law, although they themselves recognize its authority; 
and when they do obey it, to obey it unwillingly (with resistance 
of their inclination) ; and it is in this that the constraint pro 
perly consists. 1 Now, as man is &free (moral) being, the notion 
of duty can contain only self-constraint (by the idea of the law 
itself), when we look to the internal determination of the will 
(the spring) , for thus only is it possible to combine that constraint 
(even if it were external) with the freedom of the elective will. 
The notion of duty then must be an ethical one. 

The impulses of nature then contain hindrances to the fulfil 
ment of duty in the mind of man, and resisting forces, some of 
them powerful ; and he must judge himself able to combat these 
and to conquer them by means of reason, not in the future, but 
in the present, simultaneously with the thought ; he must judge 
that he can do what the law unconditionally commands that 
he ought. 

1 Man, however, as at the same time a moral being, when he considers 
himself objectively, which he is qualified to do by his pure practical 
reason (i.e. according to humanity in his own person), finds himself holy 
enough to transgress the law only unwillingly ; for there is no man so 
depraved who in this transgression would not feel a resistance and an 
abhorrence of himself, so that he must put a force on himself. It is 
impossible to explain the phenomenon that at this parting of the ways 
(where the beautiful fable places Hercules between virtue and sensuality) 
man shows more propensity to obey inclination than the law. For, we 
can only explain what happens by tracing it to a cause according to 
physical laws ; but then we should not be able to conceive the elective 
will as free. Now this mutually opposed self-constraint and the 
inevitability of it makes us recognize the incomprehensible property of 


Now the power and resolved purpose to resist a strong but 
unjust opponent is called fortitude (fortitude) (224), and when 
concerned with the opponent of the moral character within us, it 
is virtue (virtus, fortitudo moralis). Accordingly, general deon 
tology, in that part which brings not external, but internal, 
freedom under laws, is the doctrine of virtue [ethics]. 

Jurisprudence had to do only with the formal condition of 
external freedom (the condition of consistency with itself, if its 
maxim became a universal law), that is, with law. Ethics, on 
the contrary, supplies us with a matter (an object of the free 
elective will), an end of pure reason which is at the same time 
conceived as an objectively necessary end, i.e. as duty for all 
men. For, as the sensible inclinations mislead us to ends (which 
are the matter of the elective will) that may contradict duty, 
the legislating reason cannot otherwise guard against their 
influence than by an opposite moral end, which therefore must 
be given d priori independently on inclination. 

An end is an object of the elective will (of a rational being), 
by the idea of which this will is determined to an action for the 
production of this object. Now I may be forced by others to 
actions which are directed to an end as means, but I cannot be 
forced to have an end ; I can only make something an end to 
myself. If, however, I am also bound to make something 
which lies in the notions of practical reason an end to myself, 
and therefore, besides the formal determining principle of the 
elective will (as contained in law), to have also a material prin 
ciple, an end which can be opposed to the end derived from 
sensible impulses ; then this gives the notion of an end which 
is in itself a duty. The doctrine of this cannot belong to 
jurisprudence, but to Ethics, since this alone includes in its 
conception self-constraint according to moral laws. 

(225) For this reason Ethics may also be defined as the 
system of the Ends of the pure practical reason. The two parts 
of moral philosophy are distinguished as treating respectively of 
Ends and of Duties of Constraint. That Ethics contains duties 
to the observance of which one cannot be (physically) forced by 
others is merely the consequence of this, that it is a doctrine of 



Ends, since to be forced to have ends or to set them before one s 
self is a contradiction. 

Now that Ethics is a doctrine of virtue (doctrina ojficioruni 
villa fix) follows from the definition of virtue given above com 
pared with the obligation, the peculiarity of which has just been 
shown. There is in fact no other determination of the elective 
will, except that to an end, which in the very notion of it implies 
that 1 cannot even physically be forced to it by the elective will 
of others. Another may indeed force me to do something which 
is not my end (but only means to the end of another), but he 
cannot force me to make it mi/ oini end, and yet I can have no 
end except of my own making. The latter supposition would 
be a contradiction an act of freedom which yet at the same 
time would not be free. But there is no contradiction in setting 
before one s self an end which is also a duty : for in this case I 
constrain myself, and this is quite consistent with freedom. 1 
But how is such an end possible ? That is now the question. 
(220) For the possibility of the notion of the thing (viz., that it 
is not self-contradictory) is not enough to prove the possibility 
of the thing itself (the objective reality of the notion). 

II. Exposition of the Notion of an End which is also a Duty. 

We can conceive the relation of end to duty in two ways ; 
either starting from the end to find the ma^im of the dutiful 
actions; or conversely, setting out from this to find the end 
which is also duty. Jurisprudence proceeds in the former way. 
It is left to everyone s free elective will what end he will choose 
for his action. But its maxim is determined a 2^ iori ; namely, 
that the freedom of the agent must be consistent with the 
freedom of every other according to a universal law. 

1 The less a man can be physically forced, and the more he can be 
norally forced (by the mere idea of duty), so much the freer he is. The 
man, for example, who is of sufficiently firm resolution and strong mind 
not to give up an enjoyment which ho has resolved on, however much 
loss is shown as resulting therefrom, and who yet desists from his purpose 
unhesitatingly, though very reluctantly, when he finds that it would 
cause him to neglect an official duty or a sick father ; this man proves 
his freedom in the highest degree by this very thing, that he cannot resist 
the voice of duty. 


Ethics, however, proceeds in the opposite way. It cannot 
start from the ends which the man may propose to himself, and 
hence give directions as to the maxims he should adopt, that is, 
as to his duty ; for that would be to take empirical principles 
of maxims, and these could not give any notion of duty ; since 
this, the categorical " ought," has its root in pure reason alone. 
Indeed, if the maxims were to be adopted in accordance with 
those ends (which are all selfish), we could not properly speak 
of the notion of duty at all. Hence in Ethics the notion of 
duty must lead to ends, and must on moral principles give the 
foundation of maxims with respect to the ends which we ought 
to propose to ourselves. 

Setting aside the question what sort of end that is which is 
in itself a duty, and how such an end is possible (227), it is 
here only necessary to show that a duty of this kind is called a 
duty of virtue, and why it is so called. 

To every duty corresponds a right of action (facultas moralis 
gencratim), but all duties do not imply a corresponding right 
(facultas juridica] of another to compel anyone, but only the 
duties called legal duties. Similarly to all ethical obligation 
corresponds the notion of virtue, but it does not follow that all 
ethical duties are duties of virtue. Those, in fact, are not so 
which do not concern so much a certain end (matter, object of 
the elective will), but merely that which is formal in the moral 
determination of the will (ex. gr. that the dutiful action must also 
be done from duty]. It is only an end which is also duty that can 
be called a duty of virtue. Hence there are several of the latter 
kind (and thus there are distinct virtues) ; on the contrary, there 
is only one duty of the former kind, but it is one which is valid 
for all actions (only one virtuous disposition). 

The duty of virtue is essentially distinguished from the duty 
of justice in this respect, that it is morally possible to be exter 
nally compelled to the latter, whereas the former rests on free 
self-constraint only. For finite holy beings (which cannot even 
be tempted to the violation of duty) there is no doctrine of 
virtue, but only moral philosophy, the latter being an autonomy 
of practical reason, whereas the former is also an autocracy of it. 


That is, it includes a consciousness not indeed immediately 
perceived, but rightly concluded from the moral categorical 
imperative of the power to become master of one s inclinations 
which resist the law ; so that human morality in its highest 
stage can yet be nothing more than virtue ; even if it were 
quite pure (perfectly free from the influence of a spring foreign 
to duty), (228) a state which is poetically personified under 
the name of the wise man (as an ideal to which one should 
continually approximate). 

Virtue, however, is not to be defined and esteemed merely as 
habit, and (as it is expressed in the prize essay of Cochius 1 ) as a 
long custom acquired by practice of morally good actions. For, 
if this is not an effect of well-resolved and firm principles ever 
more and more purified, then, like any other mechanical arrange 
ment brought about by technical practical reason, it is neither 
armed for all circumstances nor adequately secured against the 
change that may be wrought by new allurements. 


To virtue = + a is opposed as its logical contradictory (contra- 
dictorie oppositum] the negative lack of virtue (moral weakness) 
= ; but vice = - a is its contrary (contrarie s. realiter opposi 
tum} ; and it is not merely a needless question but an offensive 
one to ask whether great crimes do not perhaps demand more 
strength of mind than great virtues. For by strength of mind 
we understand the strength of purpose of a man, as a being 
endowed with freedom, and consequently so far as he is master 
of himself (in his senses) and therefore in a healthy condition of 
mind. But great crimes are paroxysms, the very sight of which 
makes the man of healthy mind shudder. The question would 
therefore be something like this : whether a man in a fit of mad 
ness can have more physical strength than if he is in his senses ; 
and we may admit this, without on that account ascribing to 
him more strength of mind, if by mind we understand the vital 

1 [Leonhard Cochius, court preacher, who obtained the prize of the 
Berlin Academy for his essay " Uber die Neigungen," Berlin, 1769.] 


principle of man in the free use of his powers. For since those 
crimes have their ground merely in the power of the inclinations 
that weaken reason, which does not prove strength of mind, this 
question would be nearly the same as the question whether 
a man (229) in a fit of illness can show more strength than 
in a healthy condition ; and this may be directly denied, since 
the want of health, which consists in the proper balance of all 
the bodily forces of the man, is a weakness in the system of 
these forces, by which system alone we can estimate absolute 

III. Of the Reason for conceiving an End which is also a Duty. 

An end is an object of the free elective will, the idea of which 
determines this will to an action by which the object is produced 
Accordingly every action has its end, and as no one can have an 
end without himself making the object of his elective will his 
end, hence to have some end of actions is an act of the freedom 
of the agent, not an effect of physical nature. Now, since this 
act which determines an end is a practical principle which com 
mands not the means (therefore not conditionally) but the end 
itself (therefore unconditionally), hence it is a categorical impe 
rative of pure practical reason, and one therefore which combines 
a concept of duty with that of an end in general. 

Now there must be such an end and a categorical imperative 
corresponding to it. For since there are free actions, there must 
also be ends to which as an object those actions are directed. 
Amongst these ends there must also be some which are at the 
same time (that is, by their very notion) duties. For if there 
were none such, then since no actions can be without an end, 
all ends which practical reason might have would be valid only 
as means to other ends, and a categorical imperative would be 
impossible ; a supposition which destroys all moral philosophy. 

(230) Here, therefore, we treat not of ends which man actually 
makes to himself in accordance with the sensible impulses of his 
nature, but of objects of the free elective will under its own 
laws objects which he ought to make his end. We may call the 
former technical (subjective), properly pragmatical, including 

296 PREFACE TO THE [23l] 

the rules of prudence in the choice of its ends ; but the latter 
we must call the moral (objective) doctrine of ends. This dis 
tinction is, however, superfluous here, since moral philosophy 
already by its very notion is clearly separated from the doctrine 
of physical nature (in the present instance, anthropology) ; the 
latter resting on empirical principles, whereas the moral doctrine 
of ends which treats of duties rests on principles given d priori 
in pure practical reason. 

IV. What arc the Ends which are also Duties ? 

They are Our own Perfection ; The Happiness of 

We cannot invert these, and make on one side our own 
happiness, and on the other the perfection of others, ends which 
should be in themselves duties for the same person. 

For ones own happines is, no doubt, an end that all men 
have (by virtue of the impulse of their nature), but this end 
cannot without contradiction be regarded as a duty. What 
a man of himself inevitably wills does not come under the 
notion of duty, for this is a constraint to an end reluctantly 
adopted. It is, therefore, a contradiction to say that a man is 
in duty bound to advance his own happiness with all his power. 

It is likewise a contradiction to make the perfection of 
another my end, and to regard myself as in duty bound to 
promote it (231). For it is just in this that the perfection of 
another man as a person consists, namely, that he is able of 
himself to set before him his own end according to his own 
notions of duty ; and it is a contradiction to require (to make, 
it a duty for me) that I should do something which no other 
but himself can do. 

V. Explanation of these two Notions. 
(A.) Our own Perfection. 

The word Perfection is liable to many misconceptions. It 
is sometimes understood as a notion belonging to transcen 
dental philosophy ; viz., the notion of the totality of the mani- 


fold which taken together constitutes a Thing; sometimes, 
again, it is understood as belonging to teleology, so that it 
signifies the correspondence of the properties of a thing to an 
end. Perfection in the former sense might be called quantitative 
(material), in the latter qualitative (formal) perfection. The 
former can be one only, for the whole of what belongs to the 
one thing is one. But of the latter there may be several in one 
thing ; and it is of the latter property that we here treat. 

When it is said of the perfection that belongs to man 
generally (properly speaking, to humanity), that it is in itself 
a duty to make this our end, it must be placed in that which 
may be the effect of one s deed, not in that which is merely an 
endowment for which we have to thank nature ; for otherwise 
it would not be duty. Consequently, it can be nothing else 
than the cultivation of one s power (or natural capacity) and also 
of one s will [ Wille] (moral disposition) to satisfy the require 
ment of duty in general. The supreme element in the former 
(the power) is the Understanding, it being the faculty of con 
cepts, and, therefore, also of those concepts which refer to duty. 
(232) First, it is his duty to labour to raise himself out of the 
rudeness of his nature, out of his animal nature more and more 
to humanity, by which alone he is capable of setting before him 
ends, to supply the defects of his ignorance by instruction, and 
to correct his errors ; he is not merely counselled to do this 
by reason as technically practical, with a view to his purposes 
of other kinds (as art), but reason, as morally practical, abso 
lutely commands him to do it, and makes this end his duty, in 
order that he may be worthy of the humanity that dwells in 
him. Secondly, to carry the cultivation of his will up to the 
purest virtuous disposition, that, namely, in which the law is 
also the spring of his dutiful actions, and to obey it from duty, 
for this is internal morally practical perfection. This is called 
the moral sense (as it were a special sense, scnsus moralis), because 
it is a feeling of the effect which the legislative will within 
himself exercises on the faculty of acting accordingly. This is, 
indeed, often misused fanatically, as though (like the genius 
of Socrates) it preceded reason, or even could dispense with 

298 PREFACE TO THE [233] 

judgment of reason ; but still it is a moral perfection, making 
every special end, which is also a duty, one s own end. 1 

(B.) Happiness of Others. 

It is inevitable for human nature that a man should wish 
and seek for happiness, that is, satisfaction with his condition, 
with certainty of the continuance of this satisfaction. But for 
this very reason it is not an end that is also a duty. Some 
writers still make a distinction between moral and physical 
happiness (the former consisting in satisfaction with one s 
person (233) and moral behaviour, that is, with what one does \ 
the other in satisfaction with that which nature confers, conse 
quently with what one enjoys as a foreign gift). Without at 
present censuring the misuse of the word (which even involves 
a contradiction), it must be observed that the feeling of the 
former belongs solely to the preceding head, namely, perfection. 
For he who is to feel himself happy in the mere consciousness 
of his uprightness already possesses that perfection which in 
the previous section was defined as that end which is also 

If happiness, then, is in question, which it is to be my duty 
to promote as my end, it must be the happiness of other men 
whose (permitted) end I hereby make also mine. It still remains 
left to themselves to decide what they shall reckon as belonging 
to their happiness ; only that it is in my power to decline many 
things which they so reckon, but which I do not so regard, 
supposing that they have no right to demand it from me as 
their own. A plausible objection often advanced against the 
division of duties above adopted consists in setting over against 
that .end a supposed obligation to study my own (physical) 
happiness, and thus making this, which is my natural and 
merely subjective end, my duty (and objective end). This 
requires to be cleared up. 

Adversity, pain, and want are great temptations to trans 
gression of one s duty ; accordingly it would seem that strength, 

[" Object, "first </.] 


health, a competence, and welfare generally, which are opposed 
to that influence, may also be regarded as ends that are also 
duties ; that is, that it is a duty to promote our own happiness, 
not merely to make that of others our end. But in that case the 
end is not happiness but the morality of the agent ; and happi 
ness is only the means of removing the hindrances to morality ; 
permitted means (234), since no one has a right to demand from 
me the sacrifice of my not immoral ends. It is not directly a 
duty to seek a competency for one s self ; but indirectly it may 
be so ; namely, in order to guard against poverty, which is a 
great temptation to vice. But then it is not my happiness but 
my morality, to maintain which in its integrity is at once my 
aim and my duty. 

VI. Ethics does not supply Laws for Actions (which is done by 
Jurisprudence], but only for the Maxims of Action. 

The notion of duty stands in immediate relation to a law 
(even though I abstract from every end which is the matter of 
the law) as is shown by the formal principle of duty in the 
categorical imperative : " Act so that the maxims of thy action 
might become a universal law." But in Ethics this is conceived 
as the law of thy own will, not of will in general, which might 
be that of others ; for in the latter case it would give rise to a 
judicial duty which does not belong to the domain of Ethics. 
In Ethics, maxims are regarded as those subjective laws which 
merely have the specific character of universal legislation, which 
is only a negative principle (not to contradict a law in general). 
How, then, can there be further a law for the maxims of 
actions ? 

It is the notion of an end which is also a duty, a notion peculiar 
to Ethics, that alone is the foundation of a law for the maxims 
of actions ; by making the subjective end (that which everyone 
has) subordinate to the objective end (that which everyone 
ought to make his own). The imperative : " Thou shalt make 
this or that thy end ( the happiness of others)," (235) applies 
to the matter of the elective will (an object). Now since no free 
action is possible, without the agent having in view in it some 

300 PREFACE TO THE [236] 

end (as matter of his elective will), it follows that if there is 
an end which is also a duty, the maxims of actions which are 
means to ends must contain only the condition of fitness for a 
possible universal legislation : on the other hand, the end which 
is also a duty can make it a law that we should have such a 
maxim, whilst for the maxim itself the possibility of agreeing 
with a universal legislation is sufficient. 

For maxims of actions may be arbitrary, and are only limited 
by the condition of fitness for a universal legislation, which is 
the formal principle of actions. But a law abolishes the 
arbitrary character of actions, and is by this distinguished from 
recommendation (in which one only desires to know the best 
means to an end). 

VII. Ethical Duties are of indeterminate, Juridical Duties 
of strict, Obligation. 

This proposition is a consequence of the foregoing ; for if the 
law can only command the maxim of the actions, not the actions 
themselves, this is a sign that it leaves in the observance of it a 
latitude (latitude) for the elective will; that is, it cannot definitely 
assign how and how much we should do by the action towards 
the end which is also duty. But by an indeterminate duty is 
not meant a permission to make exceptions from the maxim of 
the actions, but only the permission to limit one maxim of duty 
by another (236) (ex. gr. the general love of our neighbour by the 
love of parents) ; and this in fact enlarges the field for the prac 
tice of virtue. The more indeterminate the duty, and the more 
imperfect accordingly the obligation of the man to the action, 
and the closer he nevertheless brings this maxim of obedience 
thereto (in his own mind) to the strict duty (of justice) [dcs 
Rechts], so much the more perfect is his virtuous action. 

Hence it is only imperfect duties that are duties of virtue. 
The fulfilment of them is merit (meritum) = + a ; but their trans 
gression is not necessarily demerit (demeritum] = - a, but only 
moral unworth = 0, unless the agent made it a principle not to 
conform to those duties. The strength of purpose in the former 
case is alone properly called Virtue [Tugcnd] (virtus) , the weak- 


ness in the latter case is not vice (vitium), but rather only lack 
of virtue [Untugcnd], a want of moral strength (defectus moralis). 
(As the word Tugend is derived from taugen [to be good 
for something], Untugend by its etymology signifies good for 
nothing). 1 Every action contrary to duty is called transgression 
(pcccatum). Deliberate transgression which has become a 
principle is what properly constitutes what is called vice 

Although the conformity of actions to justice [Rccht] (i.e. to 
be an upright [reclitlichcr\ man) is nothing meritorious, yet the 
conformity of the maxim of such actions regarded as duties, that 
is, Reverence for justice, is meritorious. For by this the man 
makes the right of humanity or of men his mm end, and thereby 
enlarges his notion of duty beyond that of indebtedness (o/icium 
debiti), since although another man by virtue of his rights can 
demand that my actions shall conform to the law, he cannot 
demand that the law shall also contain the spring of these 
actions. The same thing is true of the general ethical com 
mand, "Act dutifully from a sense of duty." To fix this 
disposition firmly in one s mind and to quicken it is, as in the 
former case, meritorious (237), because it goes beyond the law of 
duty in actions, and makes the law in itself the spring. 

But just for this reason those duties also must be reckoned 
as of indeterminate obligation, in respect of which there exists 
a subjective principle which ethically rewards them ; or to bring 
them as near as possible to the notion of a strict obligation, a 
principle of susceptibility of this reward according to the law of 
virtue ; namely, a moral pleasure which goes beyond mere satis 
faction with one s self (which may be merely negative), and of 
which it is proudly said that in this consciousness virtue is its 
own reward. 

When this merit is a merit of the man in respect of other 
men of promoting their natural ends, which are recognized as 
such by all men (making their happiness his own), we might 
call it the su cct merit, the consciousness of which creates a moral 

1 [Usage gives it a strong meaning, perhaps from euphemism.] 

302 PREFACE TO THE [238] 

enjoyment in which men are by sympathy inclined to revel \ 
whereas the litter merit of promoting the true welfare of other 
men, even though they should not recognize it as such (in the 
case of the unthankful and ungrateful), has commonly no such 
reaction, but only produces a satisfaction with one s self, although 
in the latter case this would be even greater. 

VIII. Exposition of the Duties of Virtue as Intermediate Duties. 
(1) Our own Perfection as an end which is also a duty. 

(a) Physical perfection ; that is, cultivation of all our facul 
ties generally for the promotion of the ends set before us by 
reason. That this is a duty, and therefore an end in itself, and 
that the effort to effect this even without regard (233) to the 
advantage that it secures us, is based, not on a conditional 
(pragmatic), but an unconditional (moral) imperative, may be 
seen from the following consideration. The power of proposing 
to ourselves an end is the characteristic of humanity (as distin 
guished from the brutes). With the end of humanity in our 
own person is therefore combined the rational will [Vernimft- 
wille], and consequently the duty of deserving well of humanity 
by culture generally, by acquiring or advancing the power to 
carry out all sorts of possible ends, so far as this power is to be 
found in man ; that is, it is a duty to cultivate the crude capa 
cities of our nature, since it is by that cultivation that the 
animal is raised to man, therefore it is a duty in itself. 

This duty, however, is merely ethical, that is, of indetermi 
nate obligation. No principle of reason prescribes how far one 
must go in this effort (in enlarging or correcting his faculty of 
understanding, that is, in acquisition of knowledge or technical 
capacity) ; and besides the difference in the circumstances into 
which men may come makes the choice of the kind of employ 
ment for which he should cultivate his talent very arbitrary. 
Here, therefore, there is no law of reason for actions, but only 
for the maxim of actions, viz. : " Cultivate thy faculties of mind 
and body so as to be effective for all ends that may come in thy 
way, uncertain which of them may become thy own." 


(b) Cultivation of Morality in ourselves. The greatest moral 
perfection of man is to do his duty, and that from duty (that 
the law be not only the rule but also the spring of his actions). 
Now at first sight this seems to be a strict obligation, and as if 
the principle of duty commanded not merely the legality of every 
action, but also the morality, i.e. the mental disposition, with 
the exactness and strictness of a law ; but in fact the law com 
mands even here only the maxim of the action (239), namely, that 
we should seek the ground of obligation, not in the sensible 
impulses (advantage or disadvantage), but wholly in the law ; 
so that the action itself is not commanded. For it is not possible 
to man to see so far into the depth of his own heart that he 
could ever be thoroughly certain of the purity of his moral 
purpose and the sincerity of his mind even in one single action,- 
although he has no doubt about the legality of it. Nay, often 
the weakness which deters a man from the risk of a crime is 
regarded by him as virtue (which gives the notion of strength). 
And how many there are who may have led a long blameless 
life, who are only fortunate in having escaped so many tempta 
tions. How much of the element of pure morality in their 
mental disposition may have belonged to each deed remains 
hidden even from themselves. 

Accordingly, this duty to estimate the worth of one s actions 
not merely by their legality, but also by their morality (mental 
disposition), is only of indeterminate obligation ; the law does 
not command this internal action in the human mind itself, but 
only the maxim of the action, namely, that we should strive 
with all our power that for all dutiful actions the thought of 
duty should be of itself an adequate spring. 

(2) Happiness of Others as an end which is also a duty. 

(a) Physical Welfare. Benevolent wishes may be unlimited, 
for they do not imply doing anything. But the case is more 
difficult with benevolent action, especially when this is to be 
done, not from friendly inclination (love) to others, but from 
duty, at the expense of the sacrifice and mortification of many 
of our appetites. That this beneficence is a duty results from 

304 PREFACE TO THE [240] 

this : that since our self-love cannot be separated from the 
need to be loved by others (to obtain help from them in case of 
necessity) (240), we therefore make ourselves an end for others ; 
and this maxim can never be obligatory except by having the 
specific character of a universal law, and consequently by means 
of a will that we should also make others our ends. Hence 
the happiness of others is an end that is also a duty. 1 

I am only bound then to sacrifice to others a part of my 
welfare without hope of recompense, because it is my duty, ami 
it is impossible to assign definite limits how far that may go. 
Much depends on what would be the true want of each accord 
ing to his own feelings, and it must be left to each to determine 
this for himself. For that one should sacrifice his own happi 
ness, his true wants, in order to promote that of others, would 
be a self-contradictory maxim if made a universal law. This 
duty, therefore, is only indeterminate ; it has a certain latitude 
within which one may do more or less without our being able 
to assign its limits definitely. The law holds only for the 
maxims, not for definite actions. 

(b) Moral well-being of others (salus moralis) also belongs to 
the happiness of others, which it is our duty to promote, but 
only a negative duty. The pain that a man feels from remorse 
of conscience, although its origin is moral, is yet in its operation 
physical, like grief, fear, and every other diseased condition. 
To take care that he should not be deservedly smitten by this 
inward reproach is not indeed my duty but his business ; never 
theless, it is my duty to do nothing which by the nature of man 
might seduce him to that for which his conscience may hereafter 
torment him, that is, it is my duty not to give him occasion of 
stumbling [Skandal], But there are no definite limits within 
which this care for the moral satisfaction of others must be 
kept ; therefore it involves only an indeterminate obligation. 

[" Whatever I judge reasonable or unreasonable for another to do for 
Me: That, b} the same judgment, I declare reasonable or unreasonable 
that I in the like case do for Him " Clarke s Discourse, etc., p. f , 
ed. 1728.] 


(24 1 ) IX. What is a Duty of Virtue? 

Virtue is the strength of the man s maxim in his obedience 
to duty. All strength is known only by the obstacles that it 
can overcome ; and in the case of virtue the obstacles are the 
natural inclinations which may come into conflict with the 
moral purpose ; and as it is the man who himself puts these 
obstacles in the way of his maxims, hence virtue is not merely 
a self-constraint (for that might be an effort of one inclination 
to constrain another), but is also a constraint according to a 
principle of inward freedom, and therefore by the mere idea of 
duty, according to its formal law. 1 

All duties involve a notion of necessitation by the law, and 
ethical duties involve a necessitation for which only an internal 
legislation is possible ; juridical duties, on the other hand, one 
for which external legislation also is possible. Both, therefore 
include the notion of constraint, either self-constraint or con 
straint by others. The moral power of the former is virtue, and 
the action springing from such a disposition (from reverence for 
the law) may be called a virtuous action (ethical), although the 
law expresses a juridical duty. For it is the doctrine of virtue 
that commands us to regard the rights of men as holy. 

But it does not follow that everything the doing of which 
is virtue is, properly speaking, a duty of virtue. The former 
may concern merely the form of the maxims ; the latter applies 
to the matter of them, namely, to an end which is also conceived 
as duty. Now, as the ethical obligation to ends of which there 
may be many, is only indeterminate, because it contains only a 
law for the maxim of actions (242), and the end is the matter 
(object) of elective will ; hence there are many duties, differing 

1 [This agrees with Dr. Adams definition of virtue, which, he says, 
implies trial and conflict. He defines it, "the conformity of imperfect 
beings to the dictates of reason." Other English moralists use " virtue " 
in the sense of Aristotle s aptr-fr. Hence a difference more verbal than 
real as to the relation of virtue to self-denial.] 


306 PREFACE TO THE [ 243 

according to the difference of lawful ends, which may be callei 
duties of virtue (ojficia honestatis), just because they are subjec 
only to free self-constraint, not to the constraint of other men 
and determine the end which is also a duty. 

Virtue being a coincidence of the rational will, with ever 
duty firmly settled in the character, is, like every thing formal 
only one and the same. But, as regards the end of actions 
which is also duty, that is, as regards the matter which on< 
ought to make an end, there may be several virtues ; and as th< 
obligation to its maxim is called a duty of virtue, it follows tha 
there are also several duties of virtue. 

The supreme principle of Ethics (the doctrine of virtue) is 
" Act on a maxim, the ends of which are such as it might be ; 
universal law for everyone to have." On this principle a mai 
is an end to himself as well as others, and it is not enough thai 
he is not permitted to use either himself or others merel) 
as means (which would imply that he might be indifferenl 
to them), but it is in itself a duty of every man to mak< 
mankind in general his end. 

The principle of Ethics being a categorical imperativt 
does not admit of proof, but it admits of a justificatior 
[Deduction] 1 from principles of pure practical reason. What 
ever in relation to mankind, to oneself, and others can be an 
end, that is an end for pure practical reason ; for this is v 
faculty of assigning ends in general ; and to be indifferent t< 
them, that is, to take no interest in them, is a contradiction 
since in that case it would not determine the maxims of actions 
(which always involve an end), and consequently would cease t( 
be practical reasons (243). Pure reason, however, cannot command 
any ends a priori, except so far as it declares the same to be 
also a duty, which duty is then called a duty of virtue. 

1 [Kant here and elsewhere uses "Deduction" in a technical legal 
sense. There is dedtwtio facti, and deductio juris : Kant s Deduction is 
exclusively the latter. 


X. The Supreme Principle of Jurisprudence was Analytical ; 
that of Ethics Synthetical. 

That external constraint, so far as it withstands that which 
hinders the external freedom that agrees with general laws (is 
an obstacle of the obstacle thereto), can be consistent with ends 
generally is clear on the principle of Contradiction, and I need 
not go beyond the notion of freedom in order to see it, let the 
end which each has be what he will. Accordingly, the supreme 
principle of jurisprudence, is an analytical principle. 1 On the con 
trary, the principle of Ethics goes beyond the notion of external 
freedom, and by general laws connects further with it an end 
which it makes a duty. This principle, therefore, is synthetic. 
The possibility of it is contained in the Deduction ( ix.). 

This enlargement of the notion of duty beyond that of 
external freedom and of its limitation by the merely formal 
condition of its constant harmony ; this, I say, in which instead 
of constraint from without, there is set up freedom within, the 
power of self-constraint, and that not by the help of other 
inclinations, but by pure practical reason (which scorns all such 
help), consists in this fact, which raises it above juridical duty ; 
that by it ends are proposed from which jurisprudence altogether 
abstracts. In the case of the moral imperative, and the suppo 
sition of freedom which it necessarily involves, the law, the power 
(to fulfil it) (244) and the rational will that determines the maxim, 
constitute all the elements that form the notion of juridical 
duty. But in the imperative, which commands the duty of virtue, 
there is added, besides the notion of self-constraint, that of an 
end ; not one that we have, but that we ought to have, which, 
therefore, pure practical reason has in itself, whose highest, un 
conditional end (which, however, continues to be duty) consists 
in this : that virtue is its own end, and by deserving well of 
men is also its own reward. Herein it shines so brightly as an 

1 [The supreme principle of jurisprudence is : " Act externally so 
that the free use of thy elective will may not interfere with the freedom 
of any man so far as it agrees with universal law." Rechtslehre, p. 33.] 


308 PREFACE TO THE [245] 

ideal to human perceptions, it seems to cast in the shade 
even holiness itself, which is never tempted to transgression. 1 
This, however, is an illusion arising from the fact that as we 
have no measure for the degree of strength except the greatness 
of the obstacles which might have been overcome (which in our 
case are the inclinations), we are led to mistake the subjective 
conditions of estimation of a magnitude for the objective con 
ditions of the magnitude itself. But when compared with 
human ends, all of which have their obstacles to be overcome, it 
is true that the worth of virtue itself, which is its own end, far 
outweighs the worth of all the utility and all the empirical ends 
and advantages which it may have as consequences. 

We may, indeed, say that man is obliged to virtue (as a 
moral strength). For although the power (facultas] to overcome 
all imposing sensible impulses by virtue of his freedom can and 
must be presupposed, yet this power regarded as strength (robur} 
is something that must be acquired by the moral spring (245) 
(the idea of the law) being elevated by contemplation of the 
dignity of the pure law of reason in us, and at the same time 
also by exercise. 

1 So that one might vary two well-known lines of Haller thus : 

" With all his failings, man is still 
Better than angels void of will." 

[Haller s lines occur in the poem, ,,Utbtr ttn Urfptung be* Ucbtts" 

,,!Dnnn ett liebt fttnen Sroang ; tie 2Bdt mit ityten 2J?dngdn 
3fl feeder aU ein SRci($ son roiflenlofen Cngtln."] 




XI. According to the preceding Principles, the Scheme of DvMes 
of Virtue may be thus exhibited. 


The Material Element of the Duty of Virtue. 






1. 2. 

My own end, which The End of Other*, 

is also my Duty. the promotion of which 

is also my Duty. 

(My own Per fee- (The Happiness of 
tion.) Others.) 

3. 4. 

The Law which is The End which is also 
also Spring. Spring. 

On which the Mora- On which the Lega 
lity lity 

of every free determination of will rests. 
The Formal Element of the Duty of Virtue. 




[2461 XII. Preliminary Notions of the Susceptibility of the Mind 
for Notions of Duty generally. 

These are such moral qualities as, when a man does not 
possess them, he is not bound to acquire them. They are : the 
moral feeling, conscience, love of one s neighbour, and respect for 
ourselves (self-esteem). There is no obligation to have these, since 
they are subjective, conditions of susceptibility for the notion of 
duty, not objective conditions of morality. They are all sensi 
tive and antecedent, but natural capacities of mind [prcedispositio] 
to be affected by notions of duty ; capacities which it cannot be 

310 PREFACE TO THE [24?] 

regarded as a duty to have, but which every man has, and by 
virtue of which he can be brought under obligation. The con 
sciousness of them is not of empirical origin, but can only follow 
on that of a moral law, as an effect of the same on the mind. 

(A.) The Moral Feeling. 

This is the susceptibility for pleasure or displeasure, merely 
rom the consciousness of the agreement or disagreement of our 
action with the law of duty. Now, every determination of the 
elective will proceeds from the idea of the possible action through 
the feeling of pleasure or displeasure in taking an interest in it 
or its effect to the deed ; and here the sensitive state (the affec 
tion of the internal sense) is either a pathological or a moral 
feeling. The former is the feeling that precedes the idea of 
the law, the latter that which may follow it. 

(24?) Now it cannot be a duty to have a moral feeling, or to 
acquire it ; for all consciousness of obligation supposes this feel 
ing in order that one may become conscious of the necessitation 
that lies in the notion of duty ; but every man (as a moral being) 
has it originally in himself ; the obligation then can only extend 
to the cultivation of it and the strengthening of it even by admi 
ration of its inscrutable origin ; and this is effected by showing 
how it is just by the mere conception of reason that it is excited 
most strongly, in its own purity and apart from every patho 
logical stimulus ; and it is improper to call this feeling a moral 
sense ; for the word sense generally means a theoretical power 
of perception directed to an object ; whereas the moral feeling 
(like pleasure and displeasure in general) is something merely 
subjective, which supplies no knowledge. No man is wholly 
destitute of moral feeling, for if he were totally unsusceptible 
of this sensation he would be morally dead; and, to speak in 
the language of physicians, if the moral vital force could no 
longer produce any effect on this feeling, then his humanity 
would be dissolved (as it were by chemical laws) into mere 
animality, and be irrevocably confounded with the mass of other 
physical beings. But we have no special sense for (moral) good 


and evil any more than for truth, although such expressions are 
often used ; but we have a susceptibility of the free elective will 
for being moved by pure practical reason and its law ; and it is 
this that we call the moral feeling. 

(B). Of Conscience. 

Similarly, conscience is not a thing to be acquired, and it is 
not a duty to acquire it (248) ; but every man, as a moral being, 
has it originally within him. To be bound to have a conscience 
would be as much as to say to be under a duty to recognize 
duties. For conscience is practical reason which, in every case 
of law, holds before a man his duty for acquittal or condem 
nation ; consequently it does not refer to an object, but only 
to the subject (affecting the moral feeling by its own act) ; so 
that it is an inevitable fact, not an obligation and duty. When, 
therefore, it is said : this man has no conscience, what is meant 
is, that he pays no heed to its dictates. For if he really had 
none, he would not take credit to himself for anything done 
according to duty, nor reproach himself with violation of duty, 
and therefore he would be unable even to conceive the duty of 
having a conscience. 

I pass by the manifold subdivisions of conscience, and only 
observe what follows from what has just been said, namely, 
that there is no such thing as an erring conscience. No doubt 
it is possible sometimes to err in the objective judgment whether 
something is a duty or not ; but I cannot err in the subjective 
whether I have compared it with my practical (here judicially 
acting) reason for the purpose of that judgment; for if I erred 
I would not have exercised practical judgment at all, and in 
that case there is neither truth nor error. Unconscientiousness 
is not want of conscience, but the propensity not to heed its 
judgment. But when a man is conscious of having acted 
according to his conscience, then, as far as regards guilt or 
innocence, nothing more can be required of him, only he is 
bound to enlighten his imderstanding as to what is duty or not ; 
but when it comes or has come to action, then conscience 

312 PREFACE TO THE [249] 

speaks involuntarily and inevitably. To act conscientiously can 
therefore not be a duty, since otherwise it would be necessary 
to have a second conscience, in order to be conscious of the act 
of the first. 

(249) The duty here is only to cultivate our conscience, to 
quicken our attention to the voice of the internal judge, and to 
use all means to secure obedience to it, and is thus our indirect 
duty. 1 

(C.) Of I^ove to len. 

Love is a matter of feeling, not of will or volition, and I 
cannot love because I will to do so, still less because I ought 
(I cannot be necessitated to love); hence there is no such thing 
as a duty to love. Benevolence, however (amor benevolcntiw.) , as a 
mode of action, may be subject to a law of duty. Disinterested 
benevolence is often called (though very improperly) love ; even 
where the happiness of the other is not concerned, but the 
complete and free surrender of all one s own ends to the ends of 
another (even a superhuman) being, love is spoken of as being 
also our duty. But all duty is necessitation or constraint, 
although it may be self-constraint according to a law. But 
what is done from constraint is not done from love. 

It is a duty to do good to other men according to our power, 
whether we love them or not, and this duty loses nothing of 
its weight, although we must make the sad remark that our 
species, alas ! is not such as to be found particularly worthy of 
love when we know it more closely. Hatred of men, however, 
is always hateful : even though without any active hostility it 
consists only in complete aversion from mankind (the solitary 
misanthropy). For benevolence still remains a duty even 
towards the manhater, whom one cannot love, but to whom 
we can show kindness. 

To hate vice in men is neither duty nor against duty, but 
a mere feeling of horror of vice, the will having no influence on 
the feeling (250) nor the feeling on the will. Beneficence is a 

1 [On Conscience, compare the note at the end of this Introduction.] 


duty. He who often practises this, and sees his beneficent 
purpose succeed, conies at last really to love him whom he 
has benefited. "When, therefore, it is said : Thou shalt love 
thy neighbour as thyself, this does not mean : Thou shalt first 
of all love, and by means of this love (in the next place) do him 
good ; but : Do good to thy neighbour, and this beneficence 
will produce in thee the love of men (as a settled habit of 
inclination to beneficence). 

The love of complacency (amor complacentice) would therefore 
alone be direct. This is a pleasure immediately connected 
with the idea of the existence of an object, and to have a duty 
to this, that is, to be necessitated to find pleasure in a thing, is 
a contradiction. 

(D.) Of Respect. 

Kespect (reverentia) is likewise something merely subjective ; 
a feeling of a peculiar kind not a judgment about an object 
which it would be a duty to effect or to advance. For if con 
sidered as duty it could only be conceived as such by means 
of the respect which we have for it. To have a duty to this, 
therefore, would be as much as to say, to be bound in duty to 
have a duty. When, therefore, it is said : Man has a duty of 
self-esteem, this is improperly stated, and we ought rather to 
say : The law within him inevitably forces from him respect 
for his own being, and this feeling (which is of a peculiar 
kind) is a basis of certain duties, that is, of certain actions 
which may be consistent with his duty to himself. But we 
cannot say that he has a duty of respect for himself ; for he 
must have respect for the law within himself, in order to be 
able to conceive duty at all. 

(251) XIII. General Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals in 
the treatment of Pure Ethics. 

First. A duty can have only a single ground of obligation ; 
and if two or more proofs of it are adduced, this is a certain 
mark that either no valid proof has yet been given, or that 

314 PREFACE TO THE [252] 

there are several distinct duties which have been regarded 
as one. 

For all moral proofs, being philosophical, can only be 
drawn by means of rational knowledge from concepts, not like 
mathematics, through the construction of concepts. The latter 
science admits a variety of proofs of one and the same theorem ; 
because in intuition a priori there may be several properties of 
an object, all of which lead back to the very same principle. 
If, for instance, to prove the duty of veracity, an argument 
is drawn first from the harm that a lie causes to other men ; 
another from the worthlesmess of a liar, and the violation of his 
own self-respect, what is proved in the former argument is a 
duty of benevolence, not of veracity, that is to say, not the 
duty which required to be proved, but a different one. Now, if 
in giving a variety of proofs for one and the same theorem, we 
flatter ourselves That the multitude of reasons will compensate 
the lack of weight in each taken separately, this is a very 
imphilosophical resource, since it betrays trickery and dis 
honesty ; for several insufficient proofs placed beside one anotlier 
do not produce certainty, nor even probability. (252) They 
should advance as reason and consequence in a scries, up to 
the sufficient reason, and it is only in this way that they can 
have the force of proof. Yet the former is the usual device 
of the rhetorician. 

Secondly. The difference between virtue and vice cannot be 
sought in the deyrce in which certain maxims are followed, but 
only in the specific quality of the maxims (their relation to the 
law). In other words, the vaunted principle of Aristotle, that 
virtue is the mean between two vices, is false. 1 For instance, 

1 The common classical formula) of Ethics medio tuttssimus ibis ; 
omne nimium vertitur in vitium ; est modus in rebus, &c. ; medium 
tenuere beati; virtus est medium vitiorum et utrinque reductum contain 
a poor sort of wisdom, which has no definite principles : for this mean 
between two extremes, who will assign it for me ? Avarice (as a vice) is 
not distinguished from frugality (as a virtue) by merely being the latter 
pushed too far ; but has a quite different principle (maxim), namely, 
placing the end of economy not in the enjoyment of one s means, but in 


suppose that good management is given as the mean between 
two vices, prodigality and avarice ; then its origin as a virtue 
can neither be defined as the gradual diminution of the former 
vice (by saving) nor as the increase of the expenses of the 
miserly. These vices, in fact, cannot be viewed as if they, 
proceeding as it were in opposite directions, met together in 
good management ; but each of them has its own maxim, 
which necessarily contradicts that of the other. 

(253) For the same reason, no vice can be defined as an 
excess in the practice of certain actions beyond what is proper 
(ex. gr. Prodigalitas cst exccssus in consumendis opibus) ; or, as a 
less exercise of them than is fitting (Avaritia est defectus, &c.). 
For since in this way the degree is left quite undefined, and 
the question whether conduct accords with duty or not, turns 
wholly on this, such an account is of no use as a definition. 1 

Thirdly. Ethical virtue must not be estimated by the power 

the mere possession of them, renouncing enjoyment ; just as the vice of 
prodigality is not to be sought in the excessive enjoyment of one s 
means, but in the bad maxiin which makes the use of them, without 
regard to their maintenance, the sole end. 

1 [" The assertion that we should do nothing either too little or too 
much means nothing, for it is tautological. What is it to do too much 1 
Answer More than is right- What is it to do too little ? Answer To 
do less than is right. What is the meaning of, I ought (to do something, 
or leave it undone) ? Answer It is not right (against duty) to do more or 
less than is right. If that is the wisdom for which we must go back to 
the ancients (to Aristotle), as if they were nearer the source, we have 
chosen ill in turning to their oracle. Between truth and falsehood 
(which are contradictories) there is no mean ; there may be, however, 
between frankness and reserve (which are contraries). In the case of 
the man who declares his opinion, all that he says is true, but he does 
not say all the truth. Now, it is very natural to ask the moral teacher to 
point out to me this mean. This, however, he cannot do, for both duties 
have a certain latitude in their application, and the right thing to do can 
only be decided by the judgment, according to rules of prudence 
(pragmatical rules), not those of morality (moral rules), that is to say, 
not as strict duty (officium strictum), but as indeterminate (officium latum). 
Hence the man who follows the principles of virtue may indeed commit 
a fault (peccatum) in his practice, in doing more or less than prudence 

316 PREFACE TO THE [254] 

we attribute to man of fulfilling the law ; but conversely, the 
moral power must be estimated by the law, which commands 
categorically; not, therefore, by the empirical knowledge that 
we have of men as they are, but by the rational knowledge 
how, according to the ideas of humanity, they ought to be. 
These three maxims of the scientific treatment of Ethics are 
opposed to the older apophthegms : 

1. There is only one virtue and only one vice. 

2. Virtue is the observance of the mean path between two 

opposite vices. 

3. Virtue (like prudence) must be learned from experience. 

XIV. Of Virtue in General. 

Virtue signifies a moral strength of Will [Wille]. But this 
does not exhaust the notion ; for such strength might also 
belong to a holy (superhuman) being, in whom no opposing 
impulse counteracts the law of his rational Will ; who therefore 
willingly does everything in accordance with the law. Virtue 
then is the moral strength of a man s Will [Wille] in his 
obedience to duty ; and this is a moral neccssitation by his own 
law giving reason (254), inasmuch as this constitutes itself a 
power executing the law. It is not itself a duty, nor is it a duty 
to possess it (otherwise we should be in duty bound to have a 
duty), but it commands, and accompanies its command with a 

prescribes ; but adhering strictly to these principles, he does not commit 
a vice (vitium), and the verse of Horace 

Insani sapiens nomen ferat, aequus iniqui, 
TJltra qiiam satis est virtutem si petat ipsam 

literally understood, is fundamentally false. But perhaps sapieiis here 
means only a prudent man, who does not form a chimerical notion of 
virtuous perfection. This perfection being an Ideal, demands approxi 
mation to this end, but not the complete attainment of it, which 
surpasses human powers, and introduces absurdity (chimerical imagina 
tion) into its principle. For to be quite too virtuous, that is, to be quite 
too devoted to duty, would be about the same as to speak of making a 
circle quite too round, or a straight line quite too straight." Tuyendlehre, 
p. 287, note.] 


moral constraint (one possible by laws of internal freedom) 
But since this should be irresistible, strength is requisite, 
and the degree of this strength can be estimated only by the 
magnitude of the hindrances which man creates for himself by 
his inclinations. Yices, the brood of unlawful dispositions, are 
the monsters that he has to combat; wherefore this moral 
strength as fortitude (fortitudo moralis) constitutes the greatest 
and only true martial glory of man ; it is also called the true 
wisdom, namely, the practical, because it makes the ultimate end 
[= final cause] of the existence of man on earth its own end. 
Its possession alone makes man free, healthy, rich, a king, &c., 
nor can either chance or fate deprive him of this, since he 
possesses himself, and the virtuous cannot lose his virtue. 

All the encomiums bestowed on the ideal of humanity in its 
moral perfection can lose nothing of their practical reality by 
the examples of what men now are, have been, or will probably 
be hereafter ; Anthropology which proceeds from mere empirical 
knowledge cannot impair anthroponomy which is erected by the 
unconditionally legislating reason ; and although virtue may 
now and then be called meritorious (in relation to men, not to 
the law), and be worthy of reward, yet in itself, as it is its own 
end, so also it must be regarded as its own reward. 

Virtue considered in its complete perfection is therefore 
regarded not as if man possessed virtue, but as if virtue possessed 
the man (255), since in the former case it would appear as though 
he had still had the choice (for which he would then require 
another virtue, in order to select virtue from all other wares 
offered to him). To conceive a plurality of virtues (as we 
unavoidably must) is nothing else but to conceive various moral 
objects to which the (rational) will is led by the single principle 
of virtue; and it is the same with the opposite vices. The 
expression which personifies both is a contrivance for affecting 
the sensibility, pointing, however, to a moral sense. Hence it 
follows that an Aesthetic of Morals is not a part, but a subjec 
tive exposition, of the Metaphysic of Morals, in which the 
emotions that accompany the necessitating force of the moral 
law make the efficiency of that force to be felt ; for example : 

318 PREFACE TO THE [256] 

disgust, horror, &c., which give a sensible form to the moral 
aversion in order to gain the precedence from the merely sensible 

XV. Of the Principle on which Ethics is separated from 

This separation on which the subdivision of moral philosophy 
in general rests, is founded on this : that the notion of Freedom 
which is common to both, makes it necessary to divide duties 
into those of external and those of internal freedom ; the latter 
of which alone are ethical. Hence this internal freedom which 
is the condition of all ethical duty must be discussed as a 
preliminary (discursus prceliminaris), just as above the doctrine 
of conscience was discussed as the condition of all duty. 

(256) REMARKS. 
Of the Doctrine of Virtue on the Principle of Internal Freedom. 

Habit (habitus) is a facility of action and a subjective per 
fection of the elective will. But not every such facility is a free 
habit (Jiabitus libertatis) ; for if it is custom (assuetudo), that is, a 
uniformity of action which, by frequent repetition, has become a 
necessity, then it is not a habit proceeding from freedom, and 
therefore not a moral habit. Virtue therefore cannot be defined 
as a habit of free law-abiding actions, unless indeed we add 
"determining itself in its action by the idea of the law"; and 
then this habit is not a property of the elective will, but of the 
Rational Will, which is a faculty that in adopting a rule also 
declares it to be a universal law, and it is only such a habit that 
can be reckoned as virtue. Two things are required for internal 
freedom : to be master of oneself in a given case (animus sui 
compos), and to have command over oneself (imperium in scmet- 
ipsum), that is to subdue his emotions and to govern his passions. 
With these conditions the character (indolcs) is noble (erecta) ; in 
the opposite case it is ignoble (indoles abjecta servo). 


XVI. Virtue requires, first of all, Command over Oneself. 

Emotions and Passions are essentially distinct ; the former 
belong to feeling in so far as this coming before reflection makes 
it more difficult or even impossible. Hence emotion is called 
hasty [jah] (animus prceceps) (257). And reason declares through 
the notion of virtue that a man should collect himself ; but this 
weakness in the life of one s understanding, joined with the 
strength of a mental excitement, is only a lack of virtue (Untu- 
gend), and as it were a weak and childish thing, which may very 
well consist with the best will, and has further this one good 
thing in it, that this storm soon subsides. A propensity to 
emotion (ex. gr. resentment] is therefore not so closely related to 
vice as passion is. Passion, on the other hand, is the sensible 
appetite grown into a permanent inclination (ex. gr. hatred in 
contrast to resentment). The calmness with which one indulges 
it leaves room for reflection and allows the mind to frame prin 
ciples thereon for itself; and thus when the inclination falls upon 
what contradicts the law, to brood on it, to allow it to root itself 
deeply, and thereby to take up evil (as of set purpose) into one s 
maxim; and this is then specifically evil, that is, it is a true vice. 

Virtue therefore, in so far as it is based on internal freedom, 
contains a positive command for man, namely, that he should 
bring all his powers and inclinations under his rule (that of 
reason) ; and this is a positive precept of command over himself 
which is additional to the prohibition, namely, that he should 
not allow himself to be governed by his feelings and inclinations 
(the duty of apathy] ; since, unless reason takes the reins of 
government into its own hands, the feelings and inclinations 
play the master over the man. 

XVII.- Virtue necessarily presupposes Apathy (considered as 


This word (apathy) has come into bad repute, just as if it 
meant want of feeling, and therefore subjective indifference with 
respect to the objects of the elective will (253) ; it is supposed 

320 PREFACE TO THE [259] 

to be a weakness. This misconception may be avoided by giving 
the name moral apathy to that want of emotion which is to be 
distinguished from indifference. In the former the feelings 
arising from sensible impressions lose their influence on the 
moral feeling only because the respect for the law is more 
powerful than all of them together. It is only the apparent 
strength of a fever patient that makes even the lively sympathy 
with good rise to an emotion, or rather degenerate into it. Such 
an emotion is called enthusiasm, and it is with reference to this 
that we are* to explain the moderation which is usually recom 
mended in virtuous practices 

" Insani sapiens nomen ferat, sequus iniqui, 
Ultra quam satis est virtutem si petat ipsam." 


For otherwise it is absurd to imagine that one could be too wise 
or too virtuous. The emotion always belongs to the sensibility, 
no matter by what sort of object it may be excited. The true 
strength of virtue is the mind at rest, with a firm, deliberate 
resolution to bring its law into practice. That is the state of 
health in the moral life; on the contrary, the emotion, even 
when it is excited by the idea of the good, is a momentary glitter 
which leaves exhaustion after it. We may apply the term 
fantastically virtuous to the man who will admit nothing to be 
indifferent in respect of morality (adiaphora), and who strews all 
his steps with duties, as with traps, and will not allow it to be 
indifferent whether a man eat fish or flesh, drink beer or wine, 
when both agree with him a micrology which, if adopted into 
the doctrine of virtue, would make its rule a tyranny. 

(259) REMARK. 

Virtue is always in progress, and yet always begins from 
the beginning. The former follows from the fact that, objectively 
considered, it is an ideal and unattainable, and yet it is a duty 
constantly to approximate to it. The second [characteristic] is 
founded subjectively on the nature of man, which is affected 
by inclinations, under the influence of which virtue, with its 


maxims adopted once for all, can never settle in a position of 
rest ; but if it is not rising, inevitably falls ; because moral 
maxims cannot, like technical, be based on custom (for this 
belongs to the physical character of the determination of will) ; 
but even if the practice of them become a custom, the agent 
would thereby lose the freedom in the choice of his maxims, 
which freedom is the character of an action done from duty. 

[The two remaining sections discuss the proper division of 
Ethics, and have no interest apart from the treatises to which 
they are introductory. They are therefore not translated. I 
add some remarks on Conscience, taken from the " Tugendlehre " 

On Conscience. 

The consciousness of an internal tribunal in man (before 
which " his thoughts accuse or excuse one another ") is Con 

Every man has a conscience, and finds himself observed by 
an inward judge which threatens and keeps him in awe (reve 
rence combined with fear) ; and this power which watches over 
the laws within him is not something which he himself (arbi 
trarily) makes, but it is incorporated in his being. It follows 
him like his shadow, when he thinks to escape. He may in 
deed stupefy himself with pleasures and distractions, but can 
not avoid now and then coming to himself or awaking, and 
then he at once perceives its awful voice. In his utmost 
depravity he may, indeed, pay no attention to it, but he cannot 
avoid hearing it. 

Now this original intellectual and (as a conception of duty) 
moral capacity, called conscience, has this peculiarity in it, that 
although its business is a business of man with himself, yet he 
finds himself compelled by his reason to transact it as if at 
the command of another person. For the transaction here is 
the conduct of a trial (causa] before a tribunal. But that he 
who is accused by his conscience should be conceived as one and 
the same person with the judge is an absurd conception of a 
judicial court ; for then the complainant would always lose his 


case. Therefore in all duties the conscience of the man must 
regard another than himself as the judge of his actions, if it is 
to avoid self-contradiction. Now this other may be an actual 
or a merely ideal person which reason frames to itself. 1 Such 
an idealized person (the authorized judge of conscience) must be 
one who knows the heart; for the tribunal is set up in the inward 
part of man ; at the same time he must also be all-obliging, that 
is, must be or be conceived as a person in respect of whom all 
duties are to be regarded as his commands ; since conscience is 
the inward judge of all free actions. Now, since such a moral 
being must at the same time possess all power (in heaven and 
earth), since otherwise he could not give his commands their 
proper effect (which the office of judge necessarily requires), and 
since such a moral being possessing power over all is called God, 
hence conscience must be conceived as the subjective principle 
of a responsibility for one s deeds before God ; nay, this latter 
concept is contained (though it be only obscurely) in every moral 
self-consciousness. Tugcndlchre, p. 293, ft . 

1 [In a foot-note, Kant explains this double personality of a man as 
both the accuser and the judge, by reference to the homo noumenoii, and 
its specific difference from the rationally endowed homo senaibilia.] 









THAT the world lieth in wickedness is a complaint as old as 
history, even as what is still older, poetry ; indeed, as old 
as the oldest of all poems, sacerdotal religion. All alike, never 
theless, make the world begin from good ; with the golden age, 
with life in paradise, or one still more happy in communion 
with heavenly beings. But they represent this happy state as 
soon vanishing like a dream, and then they fall into badness 
(moral badness, which is always accompanied by physical), as 
hastening to worse and worse with accelerated steps ;* so that 
we are now living (this now being, however, as old as history) 
in the last times, the last day and the destruction of the world 
are at the door ; and in some parts of Hindostan (20) the judge 
and destroyer of the world, Rudra (otherwise called Siva], is 
already worshipped as the God that is at present in power ; 
the preserver of the world, namely, Vishnu, having centuries 
ago laid down his office, of which he was weary, and which he 
had received from the- creator of the world, Brahma. 

1 Aetas parentum, pejor avis, tulit 
Nos nequiores, mox daturos 
Progeniem vitiosiorem. 



Later, but much less general, is the opposite heroic opinion, 
which has perhaps obtained currency only amongst philoso 
phers, and in our times chiefly amongst instructors of youth : 
that the world is constantly advancing in precisely the reverse 
direction, namely, from worse to better (though almost insen 
sibly) ; at least, that the capacity for such advance exists in 
human nature. This opinion, however, is certainly not founded 
on experience, if what is meant is moral good or evil (not civi 
lization), for the history of all times speaks too powerfully 
against it, but it is probably a good-natured hypothesis of 
moralists from Seneca to Rousseau, so as to urge man to the 
unwearied cultivation of the germ of good that perhaps lies in 
us, if one can reckon on such a natural foundation in man. 1 

1 [One of Rousseau s earliest literary efforts was on this subject, which 
had been proposed for discussion by the Academy of Dijon. He defended 
the thesis that the advance in science and arts was not favourable to 
morals. Kant s own view is stated thus in the treatise : "Das mag in 
der Theorie, u. s. w.," publ. in 1793. He is commenting on Mendelssohn, 
who had treated Lessing s hypothesis of a divine education of mankind 
as a delusion, saying that the human race never made a few steps 
forward without presently after slipping back with redoubled velocity 
into its former position. This, says Kant, is like the stone of Sisyphus, 
and this view makes the earth a sort of purgatory for old and forgotten 
sins. He proceeds thus : "I shall venture to assume that, as the human 
race is constantly advancing in respect of culture, as it is designed to do, 
so also, as regards the moral end of its existence, it is constantly 
progressing, and this progress is never broken off, although it may be 
sometimes interrupted. It is not necessary for me to prove this ; it is 
for those who take the opposite view to prove their case," viz., because it 
is my duty to strive to promote this improvement (p. 222). " Many 
proofs, too, may be given that the human race, on the whole, especially 
in our own, as compared with all preceding times, has made considerable 
advances morally for the better (temporary checks do not prove anything 
against this) ; and that the cry of the continually increasing degradation 
of the race arises just from this, that when one stands on a higher step 
of morality he sees further before him, and his judgment on what men 
are as compared with what they ought to be is more strict. Our self- 
blame is, consequently, more severe the more steps of morality we have 
already ascended in the whole course of the world s history as known to 
us." (p. 224.)] 

[2l] IN HUMAN NATURE. 327 

There is also the consideration that as we must assume that 
man is by nature (that is, as he is usually born) sound in body, 
there is thought to be no reason why we should not assume 
that he is also by nature sound in soul, so that nature itself 
helps us to develop this moral capacity for good within us. 
" Sanabilibus regrotamus malis, nosque in rectum gcnitos natura, 
si sanari velimus, adjuvat," says Seneca. 

But since it may well be that there is error in the supposed 
experience on both sides, the question is, whether a mean is not 
at least possible, namely, that man as a species may be neither 
good nor bad, or at all events that he is as much one as the 
other, partly good, partly bad? (21) We call a man bad, 
however, not because he performs actions that are bad (violating 
law), but because these are of such a kind that we may infer 
from them bad maxims in him. Now although we can in 
experience observe that actions violate laws, and even (at least 
in ourselves) that they do so consciously; yet we cannot 
observe the maxims themselves, not even always in ourselves ; 
consequently, the judgment that the doer of them is a bad man 
cannot with certainty be founded on experience. In order then 
to call a man bad, it should be possible to argue a priori from 
some actions ; or from a single consciously bad action, to a bad 
maxim as its foundation, and from this to a general source in 
the actor of all particular morally bad maxims, this source 
again being itself a maxim. 

Lest any difficulty should be found in the expression nature, 
which, if it meant (as usual) the opposite of the source of 
actions from freedom, would be directly contradictory to the 
predicates morally good or evil, it is to be observed, that by the 
nature of man we mean here only the subjective ground of the 
use of his freedom in general (under objective moral laws) 
which precedes every act that falls under the senses, wherever 
this ground lies. This subjective ground, however, must itself 
again be always an act of freedom (else the use or abuse of 
man s elective will in respect of the moral law could not be 
imputed to him, nor the good or bad in him be called moral). 
Consequently, the source of the bad cannot lie in any object that 


determines the elective will through inclination, or in any natural 
impulse, but only in a rule that the elective Will makes for itself 
for the use of its freedom, that is, in a maxim. Now we cannot 
go on to ask concerning this, What is the subjective ground 
why it is adopted, and not the opposite maxim ? (22) For if 
this ground were ultimately not now a maxim, but a mere 
natural impulse, then the use of freedom would be reduced to 
determination by natural causes, which is contradictory to its 
conception. When we say, then, man is by nature good, or, he 
is by nature bad, this only means that he contains a primary 
source (to us inscrutable) 1 of the adoption of good or of the 
adoption of bad (law-violating) maxims : and this generally as 
man, and consequently so that by this he expresses the character 
of his species. 

We shall say then of one of these characters (which dis 
tinguishes man from other possible rational beings) it is innate, 
and yet we must always remember that Nature is not to bear 
the blame of it (if it is bad), or the credit (if it is good), but 
that the man himself is the author of it. But since the primary 
source of the adoption of our maxims, which itself must again 
always lie in the free elective will, cannot be a fact of 
experience, hence the good or bad in man (as the subjective 
primary source of the adoption of this or that maxim in respect 
of the moral law) is innate merely in this sense, that it is in 
force before any use of freedom is experienced (23) (in the 
earliest childhood back to birth) so that it is conceived as being 
present in man at birth, not that birth is the cause of it. 

That the primary subjective source of the adoption of moral maxims 
is inscrutable may be seen even from this, that as this adoption is free, 
its source (the reason why, ex. (jr. , I have adopted a bad and not rather a 
good maxim) must not be looked for in any natural impulse, but always 
again in a maxim ; and as this also must have its ground, and maxims 
are the only determining principles of the free elective will that can or 
ought to be adduced, we are always driven further back ad infinitum in 
the series of subjective determining principles, without being able to 
reach the primary source. 

[24] IN HUMAN NATURE. 329 


The conflict between the two above-mentioned hypotheses 
rests on a disjunctive proposition : man is (by nature) either 
morally good or morally bad. But it readily occurs to every 
one to ask whether this disjunction is correct, and whether one 
might not affirm that man is by nature neither, or another that 
he is both at once, namely, in some parts good, in others bad. 
Experience seems even to confirm this mean between the two 

It is in general, however, important for Ethics to admit, as 
far as possible, no intermediates, either in actions (adiaplwra) 
or in human characters ; since with such ambiguity all maxims 
would run the risk of losing all definiteness and firmness. 
Those who are attached to this strict view are commonly called 
rigourists (a name that is meant as a reproach, but which is 
really praise) : and their antipodes may be called latitudinarians. 
The latter are either latitudinarians of neutrality, who may be 
called indifferentists, or of compromise, who may be called 
syncretists. 1 

1 If good = o, its contradictory is the not-good. This is the result 
either of the mere absence of a principle of good = 0, or of a positive 
principle of the opposite = - a. In the latter case the not-good may be 
called the positively bad. (In respect of pleasure and pain there is a 
mean of this kind, so that pleasure = o, pain = - a, and the state of 
absence of both is indifference, = 0.) (24). Now if the moral law were 
not a spring of the elective will in us, then moral good - (harmony of the 
will with the law) would = a, not-good = 0, and the latter would be 
merely the result of the absence of a moral spring = a + 0. But the law 
is in us as a spring = a ; therefore the want of harmony of the elective 
will with it (= 0) is only possible as a result of a really opposite 
determination of elective will, that is a resistance to it = - a, that is to 
say, only by a bad elective will ; there is, therefore, no mean between a bad 
and a good disposition (inner principle of maxims) by which the morality 
of the action must be determined. A morally indifferent action 
(adiaphoron morale) would be an action resulting merely from natural 
laws, and standing therefore in no relation to the moral law, which is a 
law of freedom ; inasmuch as it is not a deed, and in respect of it neither 
command nor prohibition, nor even legal permission, has any place or is 


(24) The answer given to the above question by the rigourists 1 
is founded on the important consideration : (25) That freedom 
of elective will has the peculiar characteristic that it cannot be 
determined to action by any spring except only so far as the man 
has taken it up into his maxim (has made it the universal rule of 
his conduct) ; only in this way can a spring, whatever it may 
be, co-exist with the absolute spontaneity of the elective will 
(freedom). Only the moral law is of itself in the judgment of 
reason a spring, and whoever makes it his maxim is morally 
good. Now if the law does not determine a man s elective will 
in respect of an action which has reference to it, an opposite 
spring must have influence on his elective will ; and since 
by hypothesis this can only occur by the man taking it (and 
consequently deviation from the moral law) into his maxim 

1 Professor Schiller, in his masterly treatise (Thalia, 1793, pt. 3) on 
pleasantness [grace] and dignity in morals, finds fault with this way of 
presenting obligation, as if it implied a Carthusian spirit ; but as we are 
agreed in the most important principles, I cannot admit that there is any 
disagreement in this, if we could only come to a mutual understanding. 
I admit that I cannot associate any pleasantness with the conception of 
duty, just because of its dignity. For it involves unconditional 
obligation, which is directly contrary to pleasantness. The majesty of 
the law (like that on Sinai) inspires (not dread, which repels, nor yet a 
charm which invites to familiarity, but) awe, which awakes respect of the 
subject for his lawgiver, and in the present case the latter being within 
ourselves, a feeling of sublimity of our own destiny, which attracts us 
more than any beauty. But virtue, i.e. the firmly rooted disposition to 
fulfil our duty punctually, is in its results beneficent also, more than 
anything in the world that can be done by nature or art ; and the noble 
picture of humanity exhibited in this form admits very well the 
accompaniments of the Graces, but as long as duty alone is in question, 
they keep at a respectful distance. If, however, we regard the pleasant 
results which virtue would spread in the world if it found access every 
where, then morally directed reason draws the sensibility into play (by 
means of the imagination). (25) It is only after vanquishing monsters 
that Hercules becomes Musagetes, before which labour those good sisters 
draw back. These companions of Venus Urania are lewd followers of 
Venus Dione as soon as they interfere in the business of the determina 
tion of duty, and want to supply the springs thereof. If it is now asked, 
Of what sort is the emotional characteristic, the temperament as it were 

[26] IN HUMAN NATURE. 331 

(in which case he is a bad man), it follows that his disposition 
in respect of the moral law is never indifferent (is always one 
of the two, good or bad). 

(26) Nor can he be partly good and partly bad at the same 
time. For if he is in part good, he has taken the moral law 
into his maxim ; if then he were at the same time in another 
part bad, then, since the moral law of obedience to duty is one 
and universal, the maxim referring to it would be universal, 
and at the same time only particular, which is a contradiction. 1 

When it is said that a man has the one or the other disposi 
tion as an innate natural quality, it is not meant that it is not 
acquired by him, that is, that he is not the author of it, but only 
that it is not acquired in time (that// 0//t youth up he has been 
always the one or the other). The disposition, that is, the 

of virtue. : is it spirited and cheerful , or anxiously depressed and 
dejected? an answer is hardly necessary. The latter slavish spirit can 
never exist without a secret hatred of the law, and cheerfulness of heart 
in the performance of one s duty (not complacency in the recognition of 
it) is a mark of the genuineness of the virtuous disposition, even in 
devoutness, .which does not consist in the self-tormenting of the penitent 
sinner (which is very ambiguous, and commonly is only an inward 
reproach for having offended against the rules of prudence), but in the 
firm purpose to do better in the future, which, animated by good 
progress, must produce a cheerful spirit, without which one is never 
certain that he has taken a liking to good, that is to say, adopted it into 
his maxim. 

1 The ancient moral philosophers, who nearly exhausted all that can 
be said about virtue, have not omitted to consider the two questions 
above mentioned. The first they expressed thus : Whether virtue must 
be learned (so that man is by nature indifferent to it and vice) ? The 
second was : Whether there is more than one virtue (in other words, 
whether it is possible that a man should be partly virtuous and partly 
vicious) ? To both they replied with rigorous decision in the negative, 
and justly ; for they contemplated virtue in itself as an idea of the 
reason (as man ought to be). But if we are to form a moral judgment of 
this moral being, man in appearance, that is, as we learn to know him by 
experience, then we may answer both questions in the affirmative ; for 
then he is estimated not by the balance of pure reason (before a Divine 
tribunal), but by an empirical standard (before a human judge). We 
shall treat further of this in the sequel. 


primary subjective source of the adoption of maxims, can be but 
one, and applies generally to the whole use of freedom. But it 
must have been itself adopted by free elective will, for otherwise 
it could not be imputed. Now the subjective ground or cause of 
its adoption cannot be further known (although we cannot help 
asking for it) ; since otherwise another maxim would have to be 
adduced, into which this disposition has been adopted, and this 
again must have its reason. (2?) Since, then, we cannot deduce 
this disposition, or rather its ultimate source, from any first act 
of the elective will in time, we call it a characteristic of the 
elective will, attaching to it by nature (although in fact it is 
founded in freedom). Now that when Ve say of a man that 
he is by nature good or bad, we are justified in applying this 
not to the individual (in which case one might be assumed to 
be by nature good, another bad), but to the whole race, this 
can only be proved when it has been shown in the anthropo 
logical inquiry that the reasons which justify us in ascribing one 
of the two characters to a man as innate are such that there is 
no reason to except any man from them, and that therefore it 
holds of the race. 



We may conveniently regard this capacity [Anlage] under 
three heads divided in reference to their end, as elements in 
the purpose for which man exists : 

1. The capacities belonging to the animal nature of man as 

a living being. 

2. To his humanity as a living and at the same time rational 


3. To his personality as a rational and at the same time 

responsible being [capable of imputation ]. 1 

1 This must not be considered as contained in the conception of the 
preceding, but must necessarily be regarded as a special capacity. For it 
does not follow that because a being has reason, this includes a faculty of 
determining the elective will unconditionally by the mere conception of 

[29] IN HUMAN NATURE. 333 

(28) 1. The capacities belonging to the Animal Nature of 
man may be brought under the general title of physical and 
merely mechanical self-love, that is, such as does not require 
reason. It is three-fold -.first, for the maintenance of himself ; 
secondly, for the propagation of his kind, and the maintenance 
of his offspring ; thirdly, for communion with other men, that 
is, the impulse to society. All sorts of vices may be grafted on 
it, but they do not proceed from that capacity itself as a root. 
They may be called vices of coarseness of nature, and in their 
extreme deviation from the end of nature become brutal vices : 
intemperance, sensuality, and wild lawlessness (in relation to other 

2. The capacities belonging to his Humanity may be brought 
under the general title of comparative, though physical, self-love 
(which requires reason), namely, estimating oneself as happy 
or unhappy only in comparison with others. From this is 
derived the inclination to obtain a worth in the opinion of others, 
and primarily only that of equality : to allow no one a superiority 
over oneself, joined with a constant apprehension (29) that 
others might strive to attain it, and from this there ultimately 
arises an unjust desire to gain superiority for ourselves over 
others. On this, namely, jealousy and rivalry, the greatest vices 
may be grafted, secret and open hostilities against all whom 
we look upon as not belonging to us. These, however, do not 

the qualification of its maxims to be universal law, so as to be of itself 
practical : at least so far as we can see. (28) The most rational being in 
the world might still have need of certain springs coming to him from 
objects of inclination, to determine his elective will ; and might apply to 
these the most rational calculation, both as regards the greatest sum of 
the springs, and also as to the means of attaining the object determined 
thereby ; without ever suspecting the possibility of anything like the 
moral law, issuing its commands absolutely, and which announces itself 
as a spring, and that the highest. Were this law not given in us, we 
should not be able to find it out as such by reason, or to talk the elective 
will into it ; and yet this law is the only one that makes us conscious of 
the independence of our elective will on determination by any other 
springs (our freedom), and at the same time of the imputability of our 


properly spring of themselves from nature as their root, but 
apprehending that others endeavour to gain a hated superiority 
over us, these are inclinations to secure this superiority for -our 
selves as a defensive measure, whereas nature would use the idea 
of such competition (which in itself does not exclude mutual 
love) only as a motive to culture. The vices that are grafted 
on this inclination may therefore be called vices of culture, and 
in their highest degree of malignancy (in which they are merely 
the idea of a maximum of badness surpassing humanity), ex. gr. 
in envy, in ingratitude, in malice, &c., are called devilish vices. 

3. The capacity belonging to Personality is the capability 
of respect for the moral law as a spring of the elective will 
adequate in itself. The capability of mere respect for the moral 
law in us would be moral feeling, which does not of itself con 
stitute an end of the natural capacity, but only so far as it is 
a spring of the elective will. Now as this is only possible by 
free will adopting it into its maxim, hence the character of such 
an elective will is the good character, which, like every charac 
ter of free elective will, is something that can only be acquired, 
the possibility of which, however, requires the presence of a 
capacity in our nature on which absolutely nothing bad can be 
grafted. The idea of the moral law alone, with the respect in 
separable from it, cannot properly be called a capacity belonging 
to personality ; (30) it is personality itself (the idea of humanity 
considered altogether intellectually). But that we adopt this 
respect into our maxims as a spring, this seems to have a 
subjective ground additional to personality, and so this ground 
seems therefore to deserve the name of a capacity belonging 
to personality. 

If we consider these three capacities according to the con 
ditions of their possibility, we find that the first requires no 
reason; the second, is based on reason, which, though practical, 
is at the service of other motives ; the third has as its root 
reason, which is practical of itself, that is, unconditionally legis 
lative ; all these capacities in man are not only (negatively) 
good (not resisting the moral law) , but are also capacities for 
good (promoting obedience to it). They are original, for they 

[3l] IN HUMAN NATURE. 335 

appertain to the possibility of human nature. Man can use 
the two former contrary to their end, but cannot destroy them. 
By the capacities of a being, we understand both its constituent 
elements and also the forms of their combination, which make 
it such and such a being. They are original if they are essen 
tially necessary to the possibility of such a being ; contingent if 
the being would be in itself possible without them. It is further 
to be observed that we are speaking here only of those capaci 
ties which have immediate reference to the faculty of desire and 
to the use of the elective will. 



By propensity (propensio) I understand the subjective source 
of possibility of an inclination (habitual desire, concupiscentia], so 
far as this latter is, as regards man generally, contingent. 1 (31) 
It is distinguished from a capacity by this, that although it may 
be innate, it need not be conceived as such, but may be regarded 
as acquired (when it is good), or (when it is bad) as drawn by 
the person on himself. Here, however, we are speaking only of 
the propensity to what is properly, i.e. morally, bad, which, as it 
is possible only as a determination of free elective will, and this 
can be adjudged to be good or bad only by its maxims, must 

1 Propensity ("Hang") is properly only the predisposition to the 
desire of an enjoyment, which when the subject has had experience of it 
produces an inclination to it. Thus all uncivilized men have a 
propensity to intoxicating things ; for, although many of them are not 
acquainted with intoxication, so that they cannot have any desire for 
things that produce it, one need only let them once try such things, to 
produce an almost inextinguishable desire for thiem. Between pro 
pensity and inclination, which presupposes acquaintance with the 
object, is instinct, which is a felt want, to do or enjoy something of 
which one has as yet no conception (such as the mechanical instinct in 
animals or the sexual impulse). There is a still further step in the 
faculty of desire beyond inclination, namely, passions (not affections, for 
these belong to the feeling of pleasure and displeasure), which are 
inclinations that exclude self-control. 


consist in the subjective ground of the possibility of a deviation 
of the maxims from the moral law, and if this propensity may 
be assumed as belonging to man universally (and therefore to 
the characteristics of his race) will be called a natural propensity 
of man to evil. We may add further that the capability or 
incapability of the elective will to adopt the moral law into its 
maxims or not, arising from natural propensity, is called a good 
or bad heart. 

We may conceive three distinct degrees of this : first, it is 
the weakness of the human heart in following adopted maxims 
generally, (32) or the frailty of human nature ; secondly, the pro 
pensity to mingle non-moral motives with the moral (even when 
it is done with a good purpose and under maxims of good), that 
is impurity ; thirdly, the propensity to adopt bad maxims, that 
is the depravity, of human nature or of the human heart. 

First, the frailty (fragilitas) of human nature is expressed 
even in the complaint of an apostle : "To will is present with 
me, but how to perform I find not " ; that is, I adopt the good 
(the law) into the maxim of my elective will ; but this, which 
objectively in its ideal conception (in thesi) is an irresistible 
spring, is subjectively (in hypothesi), when the maxim is to be 
carried out, weaker than inclination. 

Secondly, the impurity (impuritas, improbitas) of the human 
heart consists in this, that although the maxim is good in its 
object (the intended obedience to the law), and perhaps also 
powerful enough for practice, yet it is not purely moral, that 
is, does not, as ought to be the case, involve the law alone 
as its sufficient spring, but frequently (perhaps always) has 
need of other springs beside it, to determine the elective will 
to what duty demands. In other words, that dutiful actions 
are not done purely from duty. 

Thirdly, the depravity (mtiositas,pravitas], or if it is preferred, 
the corruption (corruptio}, of the human heart, is the propensity 
of the elective will to maxims which prefer other (not moral) 
springs to that which arises from the moral law. It may also 
be called the perversity (pervcrsitas) of the human heart, because 
it reverses the moral order in respect of the springs of a free 

[34] IN HUMAN NATURE. 337 

elective will ; and although legally good actions may be con 
sistent with this, the moral disposition is thereby corrupted in 
its root, and the man is therefore designated bad. 

(33) It will be remarked that the propensity to evil in man 
is here ascribed even to the best (best in action), which must be 
the case if it is to be proved that the propensity to evil amongst 
men is universal, or, what here signifies the same thing, that it 
is interwoven with human nature. 

However, a man of good morals (bene moratus) and a morally 
good man (moraliter bonus) do not differ (or at least ought not to 
differ) as regards the agreement of their actions with the law ; 
only that in the one these actions have not always the law for 
their sole and supreme spring ; in the other it is invariably so. 
We may say of the former that he obeys the law in the letter 
(that is, as far as the act is concerned which the law commands), 
but of the latter, that he observes it in the spirit (the spirit 
of the moral law consists in this, that it is alone an adequate 
spring). Whatever is not done from this faith is sin (in the dis 
position of mind). For if other springs beside the law itself 
are necessary to determine the elective will to actions conforming 
to the law (ex. gr. desire of esteem, self-love in general, or even 
good-natured instinct, such as compassion), then it is a mere 
accident that they agree with the law, for they might just as 
well urge to its transgression. The maxim, then, the goodness 
of which is the measure of all moral worth in the person, is in 
this case opposed to the law, and while the man s acts are all 
good, he is nevertheless bad. 

The following explanation is necessary in order to define the 
conception of this propensity. Every propensity is either phy 
sical, that is, it appertains to man s will as a physical being ; 
or it is moral, that is, appertaining to his elective will as a 
moral being. In the first sense, there is no propensity to 
moral evil, for this must spring from freedom ; (34) and a phy 
sical propensity (founded on sensible impulses) to any particular 
use of freedom, whether for good or evil, is a contradiction. A 
propensity to evil, then, can only attach to the elective will as a 
moral faculty. Now, nothing is morally bad (that is, capable of 



being imputed) but what is our own act. On the other hand, by 
the notion of a propensity we understand a subjective ground 
of determination of the elective will antecedent to any act, and 
which is consequently not itself an act. Hence there would be 
a contradiction in the notion of a mere propensity to evil, unless 
indeed this word " act " could be taken in two distinct senses, 
both reconcilable with the notion of freedom. Now the term 
" act " in general applies to that use of freedom by which the 
supreme maxim is adopted into one s elective will (conformably 
or contrary to the law), as well as to that in which actions 
themselves (as to their matter, that is, the objects of the elective 
will) are performed in accordance with that maxim. The pro 
pensity to evil is an act in the former sense (peccatum origi- 
narium), and is at the same time the formal source of every act 
in the second sense, which in its matter violates the law and is 
called vice (peccatum derivativum) ; and the first fault remains, 
even though the second may be often avoided (from motives 
other than the law itself). The former is an intelligible act 
only cognizable by reason, apart from any condition of time; 
the latter sensible, empirical, given in time (factum phenome 
non). The former is especially called, in comparison with the 
second, a mere propensity ; and innate, because it cannot be 
extirpated (since this would require that the supreme maxim 
should be good, whereas by virtue of that propensity itself it is 
supposed to be bad) ; (35) and especially because, although the 
corruption of our supreme maxim is our own act, we cannot 
assign any further cause for it, any more than for any funda 
mental attribute of our nature. What has just been said will 
show the reason why we have, at the beginning of this section, 
sought the three sources of moral evil simply in that which by 
laws of freedom affects the ultimate ground of our adopting or 
obeying this or that maxim, not in what affects the sensibility 
(as receptivity). 

[36] IN HUMAN NATURE. 339 


" Vitiis nemo sine nascitur" HORAT. 

According to what has been said above, the proposition, 
Man is bad, can only mean : He is conscious of the moral law, 
and yet has adopted into his maxim (occasional) deviation 
therefrom. He is by nature bad is equivalent to saying : This 
holds of him considered as a species ; not as if such a quality 
could be inferred from the specific conception of man (that of 
man in general) (for then it would be necessary) ; but by what 
is known of him through experience he cannot be otherwise 
judged, or it may be presupposed as subjectively necessary in 
every man, even the best. 

Now this propensity itself must be considered as morally 
bad, and consequently not as a natural property, but as some 
thing that can be imputed to the man, and consequently must 
consist in maxims of the elective will which are opposed to 
the law ; but on account of freedom these must be looked upon 
as in themselves contingent, which is inconsistent with the 
universality of this badness, unless the ultimate subjective 
ground of all maxims is, by whatever means, interwoven with 
humanity, and, as it were, rooted in it ; hence we call this a 
natural propensity to evil ; and as the man must, nevertheless, 
always incur the blame of it, (se) it may be called even a 
radical badness in human nature, innate (but not the less drawn 
upon us by ourselves). 

Now that there must be such a corrupt propensity rooted in 
man need not be formally proved in the face of the multitude 
of crying examples which experience sets before one s eyes 
in the acts of men. If examples are desired from that state 
in which many philosophers hoped to find pre-eminently the 
natural goodness of human nature, namely, the so-called state of 
nature, we need only look at the instances of unprovoked cruelty 
in the scenes of murder in Tofoa, New Zealand, the Navigator 



Ishnuh, and the never-ceasing instances in the wide wastes of 
North-West America (mentioned by Captain Hermic 1 }, where no 
one has even the least advantage from it; 2 and comparing these 
with that hypothesis, we have vices of savage life more than 
enough to make us abandon that opinion. On the other hand, 
if one is disposed to think that human nature can be better 
known in a civilized condition (in which its characteristic pro 
perties can be more perfectly developed), then one must listen to 
a long melancholy litany of complaints of humanity; (37) of secret 
falsehood, even in the most intimate friendship, so that it is 
reckoned a general maxim of prudence that even the best friends 
should restrain their confidence in their mutual intercourse ; of 
a propensity to hate the man to whom one is under an obli 
gation, for which a benefactor must always be prepared ; of a 
hearty good-will, which nevertheless admits the remark that 
" in the misfortunes of our best friends there is something which 
is not altogether displeasing to us"; 3 and of many other vices 
concealed under the appearance of virtue, not to mention the 
vices of those who do not conceal them, because we are satisfied 
to call a man good who is a bad man of the, average class. This 
will give one enough of the vices of culture and civilization (the 
most mortifying of all) to make him turn away his eye from the 

1 [Hearne s Journey from Prince of Wales Fort in Hudson s Bay to the 
Northern Ocean in 1709-72. London : 1795.] 

2 As the perpetual war between the Athapescaw and the Dog Rib 
Indians, which has no other object than slaughter. Bravery in war is 
the highest virtue of savages, in their opinion. Even in a state of 
civilization, it is an object of admiration and a ground of the peculiar 
respect demanded by that profession in which this is the only merit, and 
this not altogether without good reason. For that a man can have 
something that he values more than life, and which he can make his object 
(namely, honour, renouncing all self-interest), proves a certain sublimity in 
his nature. But we see by the complacency with which conquerors extol 
their achievements (massacre, unsparing butchery, <tc.), that it is only 
their own superiority and the destruction they can effect without any 
other object in which they properly take satisfaction. 

3 [Compare Stewart, Active and Moral Powers, bk. I., ch. iii, sec. 3, 
who gives an optimist explanation of this saying.] 

[38] IN HUMAN NATUKE. 341 

conduct of men, lest he should fall into another vice, namely, 
misanthropy. If he is not yet satisfied, however, he need 
only take into consideration a condition strangely compounded 
of both, namely, the external condition of nations for the 
relation of civilized nations- to one another is that of a rude 
state of nature (a state of perpetual preparation for war), and 
they are also firmly resolved never to abandon it and he will 
become aware of principles adopted by the great societies called 
States, 1 (as) which directly contradict the public profession, and 
yet are never to be laid aside, principles which no philosopher 
has yet been able to bring into agreement with morals, nor (sad 
to say) can they prop/ose any better which would be reconcilable 
with human nature ; so that the philosophical millennium, which 
hopes for a state of , perpetual peace, founded on a union of 
nations as a republic of the world, is generally ridiculed as 
visionary, just as much as the theological, which looks for the 
complete moral improvement of the whole human race. 

Now the source of this badness (1) cannot, as is usually 
done, be placed in the sensibility of man and the natural 

1 If we look at the history of these merely as a phenomenon of the 
inner nature of man, which is in great part concealed from us, we may 
become aware of a certain mechanical process of nature directed to ends 
which are not those of the nations but of Nature. As long as any State 
has another near it which it can hope to subdue, it endeavours to 
aggrandize itself ,by the conquest, striving thus to attain universal 
monarchy a constitution in which all freedom would be extinguished, 
and with it virtue, taste, and sciences (which are its consequences). (39) 
But this monster, (in which all laws gradually lose their force), after it 
has swallowed up 1 its neighbours, finally dissolves of itself, and by 
rebellion and discord is divided into several smaller States, which, 
instead of endeavouring to form a States-union (a republic of free united 
nations), begin the same game over again, each for itself, so that war 
(that scourge of the human race) may not be allowed to cease. War, 
indeed, is not so incurably bad as the deadness of a universal monarchy 
(or even a union of nations to ensure that despotism shall not be 
discontinued in any State), yet, as an ancient observed, it makes more 
bad men than it takes away. [Compare on this subject Kant s Lssay 
Zum ewigen Frieden ; Werk", vii. Thl. 1 Abth., p. 229 ; also Das mufj in 
der Theorie, &c., No. 3, ibid., p. 220.] 


inclinations springing therefrom. For not only have these no 
direct reference to badness (on the contrary, they afford the 
occasion for the moral character to show its power, occasion for 
virtue), but further we are not responsible for their existence 
(we cannot be, for being implanted in us they have not us for 
their authors), whereas we are accountable for the propensity 
to evil ; for as this concerns the morality of the subject, and is 
consequently found in him as a freely acting being, it must be 
imputed to him as his own fault, notwithstanding its being so 
deeply rooted in the elective will that it must be said to be 
found in man by nature. The source of this evil (2) cannot be 
placed in a corruption of Reason which gives the moral law (39), 
as if Reason could abolish the authority of the law in itself 
and disown its obligation ; for this is absolutely impossible. 
To conceive one s self as a freely acting being, and yet released 
from the law which is appropriate to such a being (the moral 
law), would be the same as to conceive a cause operating 
without any law (for determination by natural laws is excluded 
by freedom), and this would be a contradiction. For the 
purpose then of assigning a source of the moral evil in man, 
sensibility contains too little, for in taking away the motives 
which arise from freedom it makes him a mere animal being \ 
on the other hand, a Reason releasing from the moral law, 
a malignant reason, as it were a simply bad Rational Will 
[" Wille "], involves too much, for by this antagonism to the 
law would itself be made a spring of action (for the elective 
will cannot be determined without some spring), so that the 
subject would be made a devilish being. Neither of these 
views, however, is applicable to man. 

Now although the existence of this propensity to evil in 
human nature can be shown by experience, from the actual 
antagonism in time between human will and the law, yet this 
proof does not teach us its proper nature and the source of this 
antagonism. This propensity concerns a relation of the free 
elective will (an elective will, therefore, the conception of which 
is not empirical) to the moral law as a spring (the conception of 
which is likewise purely intellectual) ; its nature then must be 

[40] IN HUMAN NATURE. 343 

cognized d priori from the concept of the Bad, so far as the 
laws of freedom (obligation and accountability) bear upon it. 
The following is the development of the concept : 

Man (even the worst) does not in any maxim, as it were, 
rebelliously abandon the moral law (and renounce obedience to 
it). (40) On the contrary, this forces itself upon him irresistibly 
by virtue of his moral nature, and if no other spring opposed it, 
he would also adopt it into his ultimate maxim as the adequate 
determining principle of his elective will, that is, he would be 
morally good. But by reason of his physical nature, which is 
likewise blameless, he also depends on sensible springs of action, 
and adopts them also into his maxim (by the subjective prin 
ciple of self-love). If, however, he adopted them into his maxim 
as adequate of themselves alone to determine his will without re 
garding the moral law (which he has within), then he would be 
morally bad. Now as he naturally adopts both into his maxim, 
and as he would find each, if it were alone, sufficient to deter 
mine his will, it follows that if the distinction of the maxims 
depended merely on the distinction of the springs (the matter of 
the maxims), namely, according as they were furnished by the 
law or by an impulse of sense, he would be morally good and 
bad at once, which (as we saw in the Introduction) is a contra 
diction. Hence the distinction whether the man is good or bad 
must lie, not in the distinction of the springs that he adopts into 
his maxim, but in the subordination, i.e. which of the two he makes 
the condition of the other (that is, not in the matter of the maxim, 
but in its form). Consequently a man (even the best) is bad 
only by this, that he reverses the moral order of the springs in 
adopting them into his maxims ; he adopts, indeed, the moral 
law along with that of self-love ; but perceiving that they cannot 
subsist together on equal terms, but that one must be subordi 
nate to the other as its supreme condition, he makes the spring 
of self-love and its inclinations the condition of obedience to 
the moral law ; whereas, on the contrary, the latter ought to be 
adopted into the general maxims of the elective will as the sole 
spring, being the supreme condition of the satisfaction of the 


(41) The springs being thus reversed by his maxim, contrary 
to the moral order, his actions may, nevertheless, conform to the 
law just as though they had sprung from genuine principles : 
provided reason employs the unity of maxims in general, which 
is proper to the moral law, merely for the purpose of intro 
ducing into the springs of inclination a unity that does not 
belong to them, under the name of happiness (ex. (jr. that 
truthfulness, if adopted as a principle, relieves us of the anxiety 
to maintain consistency in our lies and to escape being en 
tangled in their serpent coils). In which case the empirical 
character is good, but the intelligible character is bad. 

Now if there is in human nature a propensity to this, then 
there is in man a natural propensity to evil ; and since this pro 
pensity itself must ultimately be sought in a free elective will, 
and therefore can be imputed, it is morally bad. This badness 
is radical, because it corrupts the source of all maxims ; and at 
the same time being a natural propensity, it cannot be destroyed 
by human powers, since this could only be done by good 
maxims ; and when by hypothesis the ultimate subjective source 
of all maxims is corrupt, these cannot exist ; nevertheless, it 
must be possible to overcome it, since it is found in man as 
a freely acting being. 

The depravity of human nature, then, is not so much to be 
called badness, if this word is taken in its strict sense, namely, 
as a disposition (subjective principle of maxims) to adopt the 
bad, as bad, into one s maxims as a spring (for that is devilish) ; 
but rather perversity of heart, which, on account of the result, 
is also called a lad heart. (42) This may co-exist with a Will 
[" Wille "J good in general, and arises from the frailty of 
human nature, which is not strong enough to follow its adopted 
principles, combined with its impurity in not distinguishing the 
springs (even of well-intentioned actions) from one another by 
moral rule. So that ultimately it looks at best only to the 
conformity of its actions with the law, not to their derivation 
from it, that is, tc the law itself as the only spring. Now 
although this does not always give rise to wrong actions and a 
propensity thereto, that is, to vice, yet the habit of regarding 

[43] IN HUMAN NATURE. 345 

the absence of vice as a conformity of the mind to the law of 
duty (as virtue) must itself be designated a radical perversity of 
the human heart (since in this case the spring in the maxims is 
not regarded at all, but only the obedience to the letter of the 

This is called innate guilt (rcatus], because it can be per 
ceived as soon 1 as ever the use of freedom manifests itself in 
man, and nevertheless must have arisen from freedom, and 
therefore may be imputed. It may in its two first degrees (of 
frailty and impurity) be viewed as unintentional guilt (cvlpa}, 
but in the third as intentional (dolus), and it is characterized 
by a certain malignancy of the human heart (doh<s malus], 
deceiving itself as to its own good or bad dispositions, and 
provided only its actions have not the bad result which by 
their maxims they might well have, then not disquieting 
itself about its dispositions, but, on the contrary, holding 
itself to be justified before the law. Hence comes the peace 
of conscience of so many (in their own opinion conscien 
tious) men, when amidst actions in which the law was not 
taken into counsel, (43) or at least was not the most important 
consideration, they have merely had the good fortune to escape 
bad consequences. Perhaps they even imagine they have 
merit, not feeling themselves guilty of any of the transgres 
sions in which they see others involved ; without inquiring 
whether fortune is not to be thanked for this, and wiiether the 
disposition which, if they would, they could discover within, 
would not have led them to the practice of the like vices, had 
they not been kept away from them by want of power, by 
temperament, education, circumstances of time and place which 
lead into temptation (all, things that cannot be imputed to us). 
This dishonesty in imposing on ourselves, which hinders the 
establishment of genuine moral principle in us, extends itself 
then outwardly also to falsehood and deception of others which, 
if it is not to be called badness, at least deserves to be called 
worthlessness, and has its root in the radical badness of human 
nature, which (inasmuch as it perverts the moral judgment in 
respect of the estimation to be formed of a man, and renders 


imputation quite uncertain both internally and externally) con 
stitutes the corrupt spot in our nature, which, as long as we da 
not extirpate it, hinders the source of good from developing 
itself as it otherwise would. 

A member of the English Parliament uttered in the heat of 
debate the declaration, " Every man has his price." 1 If this is 
true (which everyone may decide for himself) if there is no 
virtue for which a degree of temptation cannot be found which 
is capable of overthrowing it if the question whether the good 
or the bad spirit shall gain us to its side only depends on which 
bids highest and offers most prompt payment then what 
the Apostle says might well be true ,of men universally : 
" There is no difference, they are altogether sinners ; there 
is none that doeth good [according to the spirit of the law], 
no, not one." 2 

1 [The saying was Sir Robert Walpole s, but was not so general as in 
the text. He said it (not in debate) of the members of the House of 
Commons, adding that he knew the price of each.] 

- The proper proof of this condemnation pronounced by the morally 
judging reason is not contained in this section, but in the preceding ; 
this contains only the confirmation of it by experience, which, however, 
could never discover the root of the evil, in the supreme maxim of free 
elective will in relation to the law, this being an intelligible act, which is 
antecedent to all experience. From this, that ia, from the unity of the 
supreme maxim, the law to which it refers being one, it may also be 
seen why, in forming a purely intellectual judgment of men, the principle 
of exclusion of a mean between good and bad must be assumed ; whereas 
in forming the empirical judgment from sensible acts (actual conduct), the 
principle may be assumed that there is a mean between these extremes : 
on one side a negative mean of indifference previous to all cultivation, 
and on the other side a positive mean of mixture, so as to be partly 
good and partly bad. But the latter is only an estimation of the 
morality of man in appearance, and is in the final judgment subject to 
the former. 

[45] IN HUMAN NATURE. 347 

(44) IV. 

Origin (primary) is the derivation of an effect from its 
primary cause, that is, one which is not in its turn an effect of 
another cause of the same kind. It may be considered either as 
a rational or a temporal origin. In the former signification, it is 
only the existence of the effect that is considered ; in the latter, 
its occurrence, so that it is referred as an event to its cause in 
time. When the effect is referred to a cause which is connected 
with it by laws of freedom, as is the case with moral evil, then 
the determination of the elective will to the production of it is 
not regarded as connected with its determining principle in 
time, but merely in the conception of the reason (45), and cannot 
be deduced as from any antecedent state, which on the other hand 
must be done when the bad action, considered as an event in the 
world, is referred to its physical cause. It is a contradiction 
then to seek for the time-origin of free actions as such (as we 
do with physical effects) ; or of the moral character of man. so 
far as it is regarded as contingent, because this is the principle 
of the use of freedom, and this (as well as the determining 
principle of free will generally) must be sought for simply in 
conceptions of reason. 

But whatever may be the origin of the moral evil in man, 
the most unsuitable of all views that can be taken of its spread 
and continuance through all the members of our race and in all 
generations is, to represent it as coming to us by inheritance 
from our first parents ; for we can say of moral evil what the 
poet says of good : 

"... Genus et proavos, efc qu<x nonfecimus ipsi 
Vix ea nostra puto. . . ." 1 [OviD, Met. xiii. 140.] 

1 The three so-called higher Faculties would explain this inheritance 
each in its own way, namely, as a hereditary malady, or hereditary guilt, 
or hereditary sin. 1. The medical faculty would regard the hereditary 
evil as something like the tapeworm, respecting which some naturalists 


(45) It is to be observed, further, that when we inquire into the 
origin of evil, we do not at first take into account the propensity 
to it (as peccatum in potentia), but only consider the actual evil 
of given actions, in its inner possibility, and in what must 
concur to determine the will to the doing of them. 

Every bad action, when we inquire into its rational origin, 
must be viewed as if the man had fallen into it directly from 
the state of innocence. For whatever may have been his 
previous conduct, and of whatever kind the natural causes in 
fluencing him may be, whether moreover they are internal or 
external, his action is still free, and not determined by any 
causes, and therefore it both can and must be always judged as 
an original exercise of his elective will. He ought to have left 
it undone, in whatever circumstances he may have been ; for by 
no cause in the world can he cease to be a freely acting being. 
It is said indeed, and justly, that the man is accountable for the 
consequences of his previous free but wrong actions ; but by this 
is only meant that one need not have recourse to the subter 
fuge of deciding whether the later actions are free or not, 
because there is sufficient ground for the accountability in the 
admittedly free action which was their cause. But if a man 
had been never so bad up to the very moment of an impend 
ing free action (even so that custom had become second nature), 
yet not only has it been his duty to be better, but it is now still 
his duty to improve himself ; (47) he must then be also able to do 
so, and if he does not, he is just as accountable at the moment 
of acting as if, endowed with the natural capacity for good 
(which is inseparable from freedom), he had stepped into evil 

are actually of opinion that, as it is not found in any element outside us 
nor (of the same kind) in any other animal, it must have been present in 
our first parents. 2. The leyal faculty would regard it as the legitimate 
consequence of entering on an inheritance left to us by them, but 
burdened with a heavy crime (for to be born is nothing else but to 
obtain the use of the goods of earth, so far as they are indispensable to 
our subsistence). We must therefore pay the debt (expiate), and shall 
in the end be dispossessed (by death). Right, legally ! 3. The 
theological faculty would view this evil as a personal participation of our 

[48] IN HUMAN NATURE. 349 

from the state of innocence. We must not inquire then what is 
the origin in time of this act, but what is its origin in reason, 
in order to define thereby the propensity, that is to say, the 
general subjective principle by which a transgression is adopted 
into our maxim, if there is such a propensity, and if possible ta 
explain it. 

With this agrees very well the mode of representation 
which the Scriptures employ in depicting the origin of evil as a 
beginning of it in the human race, inasmuch as they exhibit it 
in a history in which that which must be conceived as first in 
the nature of the thing (without regard to the condition of 
time) appears as first in time. According to the Scriptures, 
evil does not begin from a fundamental propensity to it 
otherwise its beginning would not spring from freedom but 
from sin (by which is understood the trangression of the moral 
law as a divine command} ; while the state of man before all 
propensity to evil is called the state of innocence. The moral 
law preceded as a prohibition, as must be the case with man as a 
,being not pure, but tempted by inclination (Gen. ii. 16, 17). 
Instead now of following this law directly as an adequate 
spring (one which alone is conditionally good, and in respect 
of which no scruple can occur), the man looked about for other 
springs (iii. 6) which could only be conditionally good (namely, 
so far as the law is not prejudiced thereby), and made it his 
maxim if we conceive the action as consciously arising from 
freedom to obey the law of duty not from duty, but from regard 
to other considerations. (43) Hence he began with questioning 
the strictness of the law, which excludes the influence of every 
other spring ; then he reasoned down 1 obedience to it to the 

first parents in the revolt of a reprobate rebel, either that we (though now 
unconscious of it) did then co-operate in it ourselves, (46) or that now 
being born under his dominion (as prince of this world), we prefer its 
goods to the command of the heavenly Ruler, and have not loyalty 
enough to tear ourselves from them, for which we must hereafter share 
his lot with him. 

1 As long as the moral law is not allowed the predominance in one s 
maxims above all other determining principles of the elective will, as the 


mere conditional conformity to means (subject to the principle 
of self-love), whence, finally, the predominance of sensible 
motives above the spring of the law was adopted into the 
maxim of action, and so sin was committed (iii. 6). Mutato 
nomine, de te fabula narratur. That we all do just the same, 
consequently "have all sinned in Adam," 1 and still sin, is 
clear from what has preceded ; only that in us an innate pro 
pensity to sin is presupposed in time, but in the first man, on 
the contrary, innocence, so that in him the transgression is 
called Of fall ; whereas, in us it is conceived as following from 
the innate depravity of our nature. What is meant, however, 
by this propensity is no more than this, that if we wish to 
apply ourselves to the explanation of evil as to its beginning in 
time, we must in the case of every intentional transgression 
pursue its causes in a previous period of our life, going back 
wards till we reach a time when the use of reason was not yet 
developed: in other words, we must trace the source of evil 
to a propensity towards it (as a foundation in nature) which, 
on this account, is called innate. In the case of the first 
man, who is represented as already possessing the full power 
of using his reason, this is not necessary, nor indeed pos 
sible; (40) since otherwise that natural foundation (the evil 
propensity) must have been created in him ; therefore his sin is 
represented as produced directly from a state of innocence. 
But we must not seek for an origin in time of a moral character 
for which we are to be accountable, however inevitable this is 
when we try to explain its contingent existence (hence Scrip- 
spring sufficient of itself, all profession of respect for it is feigned, and 
the propensity to this is inward falsehood, that is, a propensity to 
deceive oneself to the prejudice of the moral law in interpreting it 
(iii. 5) ; on which account the Bible (Christian part) calls the author of 
evil (residing in ourselves) the liar from the beginning, and thus 
characterizes man in respect of what appears to be the main principle of 
evil in him. 

1 [Rom. v. 12; Vulgate. Luther s version is correct. Jerome also 
gives the correct interpretation, although he retains the " in quo" of the 
old version. Probably this was meant by the original translator as a 
literal rendering of the Greek fy <? " in that."] 

[50] IN HUMAN NATURE. 351 

ture may have so represented it to us in accommodation to 
this our weakness). 

The rational origin, however, of this perversion of our 
elective will in respect of the way in which it adopts subordi 
nate springs into its maxims as supreme, ite. the origin of this 
propensity to evil, remains inscrutable to us ; for it must itself 
be imputed to us, and consequently that ultimate ground of all 
maxims would again require the assumption of a bad maxim. 1 
What is bad could only have sprung from what is morally bad 
(not the mere limits of our nature) ; and yet the original con 
stitution is adapted to good (nor could it be corrupted by any 
other than man himself, if he is to be accountable for this 
corruption) ; there is not then any source conceivable to us 
from which moral evil could have first come into us. Scrip 
ture, 2 in its historical narrative, expresses this inconceivability, 
at the same time that it defines the depravity of our race more 
precisely (50) by representing evil as pre-existing at the begin 
ning of the world, not however in man, but in a spirit originally 
destined for a lofty condition. The first beginning of all evil 
in general is thus represented as inconceivable to us (for whence 
came the evil in that spirit ?), and man as having fallen into evil 
only by seduction, and therefore as not fundamentally corrupt 
(i.e. even in his primary capacity for good), but as still capable 

1 [" It is a very common supposition of moral philosophy that it is very 
easy to explain the existence of moral evil in man, namely, that it arises 
from the strength of the sensible springs of action on the one hand, and 
the feebleness of the rational spring (respect for the law) on the other, 
that is, from weakness. But in that case it should be still easier to 
explain the moral good in man (in his moral capacity) ; for one cannot be 
conceived to be comprehensible without the other. But the faculty of 
reason to become master over all opposing springs of action by the mere 
idea of the law is absolutely inexplicable ; it is then equally incompre 
hensible how the sensible springs can become masters of a reason which 
commands with such authority. For if all the world acted according to 
the precept of the law, it would be said that everything was going on in 
the natural order, and it would not occur to anyone to inquire the 
cause." Religion, &c., pp. 67, 68, note.] 

2 These remarks must not be regarded as intended to be an interpre 
tation of Scripture a thing that lies outside the province of mere 


of an improvement ; in contrast to a seducing spirit, that is, a 
being in whom the temptation of the flesh cannot be reckoned 
as alleviating his guilt ; so that the former, who, notwith 
standing his corrupt heart, continues to have a good Kational 
Will [" Wille "], has still left the hope of a return to the good 
from which he has gone astray. 



What man is or ought to be in a moral sense he must make 
or must have made himself. Both must be the effect of his free 
elective will, otherwise it could not be imputed to him, and, 
consequently, he would be morally neither good nor bad. 
When it is said he is created good, that can only mean that he 
is created for good, and the original constitution in man is good ; 
(51) but this does not yet make the man himself good, but accord 
ing as he does or does not adopt into his maxim the springs 
which this constitution contains (which must be left altogether 
to his own free choice), he makes himself become good or bad. 
Supposing that a supernatural co-operation is also necessary to 
make a man good or better, whether this consists only in the 
diminution of the obstacles or in a positive assistance, the man 

reason . We explain the manner in which a moral use may be made of 
a historical statement without deciding whether this was the meaning of 
the writer, or whether we only introduce it : provided only that it is 
true in itself, without needing any historical proof, and that it is at the 
same time the only way in which we can derive something for our own 
improvement from a passage of Scripture which would otherwise be only 
an unprofitable addition to our historical knowledge. We must not 
without necessity contend about the historical authority of a matter 
which, whether it be understood in this way or in that, does not help us 
to become better men (50), when what does help can and must be known 
without historical proof. Historical knowledge, which has no such inner 
reference, that can hold good for every man, belongs to the adiaphora, 
with respect to which everyone may judge as he finds most edifying for 

1 [In the first edition this appears simply as No. V.] 

[ 5 ;;] IN HUMAN NATURE. 353 

must previously make himself worthy to receive it and to rjwpi 
this aid (which is no small thing), that is, to adopt into his 
maxim the positive increase of power, in which way alone it is 
possible that the good should be imputed to him, and that he 
should be recognized as a good man. 

Now how is it possible that a man naturally bad should 
make himself a good man transcends all our conceptions ; for 
how can a bad tree bring forth good fruit ? But since it it 
already admitted that a tree originally good (as to its capacities) 
has brought forth bad fruit, 1 and the fall from good to bad 
(when it is considered that it arises from freedom) is not more 
conceivable than a rising again from bad to good, the possi 
bility of the latter cannot be disputed. For notwithstanding 
that fall, the command we owjht to become better men," 
resounds with undiminished force in our soul ; consequently, we 
must be able to do so, even though what we ourselves can do 
should be insufficient of itself, and though we should thereby 
only make ourselves susceptible of an inscrutable higher assist 
ance. It must, however, be presupposed that a germ of good 
has remained in its complete purity, which could not be 
destroyed or corrupted (52) a germ that certainly cannot be 
self-love, 2 which, when taken as the principle of all our maxims, 
is in fact the source of all evil. 

(.53 1 The restoration of the original capacity for good in us is 
then not the acquisition of a lost spring towards good; for, this, 

1 The tree that is good as to its capacities is not yet so in fact ; for if 
it were so it certainly could not bring forth bad fruit ; it is only when 
the man has adopted into his maxim the spring which is placed in him 
for the moral law that he is called a good man (the tree is then absolutely 
a good tree). 

* Words that admit of two totally different senses often retard con 
viction for a long time when the principles are perfectly clear. Love in 
general, and self-love in particular, may be divided into that of good will 
and that of complacency (benevolently et complacent lie) , and both (as is 
evident) must be rational. It is natural to adopt the former into one s 
maxim (for who would not wish that it should always fare well with hini- 
M lt /). It is rational, inasmuch as in the first place, in respect of the end 
only that is chosen which is consistent with the greatest and most lasting 

2 A 

354 OF THE HAD JT.INCIl LE [f>4] 

which consists in respect for the moral law, we could never lose, 
;m<l, were it possible to do so, we could never recover it. It is 
then only the restoration of its -purity, as the supreme principle 
of all our maxims, by which it is adopted into these not merely 
in combination with other springs or as subordinate to these 
(the inclinations) as conditions, but in its entire purity as a 
spring sufficient of itself to determine the elective will. The 
original good is holincx* of ma..cii>ix in following one s duty, by 
which the man who adopts this purity into his maxims, although 
he is not himself as yet on that account holy (for there is still 
a long interval between maxim and act), nevertheless is on the 
way to approximate to holiness by an endless progress. Firm 
ness of purpose in following duty, when it has become a habit, 
is called also virtue, as far as legality is concerned, which is its 
empirical character (virtus phenomenon}. It lias then the steady 
maxim of conformity of actions to the lai>\ whatever may be the 
source of the spring required for this. (54.) Hence virtue in this 
sense is gradually acquired, and is described by some as a long 
practice (in observing the law) by which a man has passed from 
the propensity to vice, by gradual reform of his conduct and 

welfare, and in the next as the most fitting means are chosen for each of 
these elements of happiness. Reason here occupies the place of a 
minister to natural inclination, and the maxim which is assumed on that 
account has no reference whatever to morality. If, however, it is made 
the unconditional principle of choice, then it is the source of an 
immeasurably great conflict with morality. Now a rational love of 
complacency in oneself may either be understood thus, that we have 
complacency in the above-mentioned maxims directed to the satisfaction 
of natural inclinations (so far as that end is attained by following them) ; 
and then it is the same thing as complacency towards oneself ; one is 
pleased with oneself, as a merchant whose trading speculations succeed 
and who congratulates himself on his insight in respect of the maxims he 
has adopted. But the maxim of self-love, of unconditional complacency 
in oneself (not depending on gain or loss as the results of the action) 
would be the inward principle of a satisfaction which is only possible to 
us on condition of the subordination of our maxims to the moral law. 
No man to whom morality is not indifferent can have complacency in 
himself, or indeed can be free from a bitter dissatisfaction with himself, 
who is conscious of maxims that do not agree with the moral law within. 



strengthening of his maxims, into an opposite propensity. 
This does not require any cliange of heart, but only a change of 
morals. A man regards himself as virtuous when he feels him 
self confirmed in the maxims of observance of duty, although 
this be not from the supreme principle of all maxims ; but the 
intemperate man, for instance, returns to temperance for the 
sake of health ; the liar to truth for the sake of reputation ; the 
unjust man to common fairness for the sake of peace or of gain, 
&c., all on the much- lauded principle of happiness. But that a 
man should become not merely a legally but a morally good (God- 
pleasing) man, that is, virtuous in his intelligible character 
(virtus noumenon), a man who, when he recognizes a thing as 
his duty, needs no other spring than this conception of duty 
itself ; this is not to be effected by gradual reform, as long as 
the principle of his maxims remains impure, but requires a 
revolution in the mind (a transition to the maxim of holiness of 
mind), and he can only become a new man by a kind of new 
birth, as it were by a new creation (Gospel of John, iii. o, 
compared with Gen. i. 2) and a change of heart. 

We might call this rational self-love, which prevents him from mixing 
with the springs of his will any other causes of satisfaction drawn from 
the consequences of his actions (under the name of happiness to be 
procured thereby). Now as the latter indicates unconditional respect 
for the law, why should a difficulty be put in the way of the clear under 
standing of the principle, by using the expression a rational self-love, 
which is moral only on the condition just mentioned, whereby we are 
involved in a circle (53) (for a man can love himself in a moral way only 
so far as he is conscious that his maxim is to make respect for the law 
the supreme spring of his will) ? For us, as beings dependent on objects 
of the sensibility, happiness is by our [physical] nature the first and 
unconditional object of our desire. But (if we give the name of nature 
in general to all that is innate in us, then) as beings endowed with 
reason and freedom, happiness is by our nature far from being the first 
or unconditional object of our maxims ; this character belongs to 
worthiness of happiness, that is, the coincidence of all our maxims with 
the moral law. Herein consists the whole precept of morality, that this 
is the objective condition under which alone the wish for the former can 
coincide with the legislation of reason, and the moral character consists 
in the state of mind which admits only such a conditional wish. 

2 A 2 


But if a man is corrupt in the very foundation of his 
maxims, how is it possible that he should effect this revolution 
by his own power and become a good man of himself ? And 
yet duty commands it, and duty commands nothing that is not 
practicable for us. The only way this difficulty can be got over 
is, that a revolution is necessary for the mental disposition, but 
a gradual reform for the sensible temperament, which opposes 
obstacles to the former ; and being necessary, must therefore be 
possible ; that is, when a man reverses the ultimate principle of 
his maxims by which he is a bad man by a single immutable 
resolution (55) (and in so doing puts on a new man) ; then so far 
he is in principle and disposition a subject susceptible of good ; 
but it is only in continued effort and growth that he is a good 
man. that is, he may hope with such purity of the principle 
that he has taken as the supreme maxim of his elective will, 
and by its stability, that he is on the good (though narrow) 
road of a constant progress from bad to better. In the eyes of 
one who penetrates the intelligible principle of the heart (of all 
maxims of elective will), and to whom therefore this endless 
progress is a unity, that is, in the eyes of God, this comes to the 
same as being actually a good man (pleasing to Him), and in 
so far this change may be considered as a revolution ; but in 
the judgment of men, who can estimate themselves and the 
strength of their maxims only by the superiority which they 
gain over sensibility in time, it is only to be viewed as an ever 
continuing struggle for improvement ; in other words, as a 
gradual reform of the perverse disposition, the propensity to evil. 

Hence it follows that the moral culture of man must begin, 
not with improvement in morals, but with a transformation of 
the mind and the foundation of a character, although men 
usually proceed otherwise, and contend against vices singly, 
leaving the general root of them untouched. Now even a man 
of the most limited intellect is capable of the impression of an 
increased respect for an action conformable to duty, in propor 
tion as he withdraws from it in thought all other springs which 
could have influenced the maxim of the action by means of 
self-love , and even children are capable of finding out even the 

[r,6] IN HUMAN NATURE. 357 

least trace of a mixture of spurious springs of action, in which 
ease the action instantly loses all moral worth in their eyes. 
This capacity for good is admirably cultivated by adducing the 
example of even good men (good as regards their conformity to 
law), and allowing one s moral pupils to estimate the impurity 
of many maxims from the actual springs of their actions ; (r>6), 
and it gradually passes over into the character, so that duty 
simply of itself commences to acquire considerable weight in 
their hearts. But to teach them to admire virtuous actions, 
however great the sacrifice they may cost, is not the right way 
to maintain the feeling of the pupil for moral good. For how 
ever virtuous anyone may be, all the good he can ever do is 
only duty ; and to do his duty is no more than to do what is in 
the common moral order, and therefore does not deserve to be 
admired. On the contrary, this admiration is a lowering of 
our feeling for duty, as if obedience to it were something 
extraordinary and meritorious. 

There is, however, one thing in our soul which, when we 
take a right view of it, we cannot cease to regard with the 
highest astonishment, and in regard to which admiration is 
right or even elevating, and that is the original moral capacity 
in us generally. What is that in us (we may ask ourselves) by 
which we, who are constantly dependent on nature by so many 
wants, are yet raised so far above it in the idea of an original 
capacity (in us) that we regard them all as nothing, and our 
selves as unworthy of existence, if we were to indulge in their 
satisfaction in opposition to a law which our reason authorita 
tively prescribes ; although it is this enjoyment alone that can 
make life desirable, while reason neither promises anything nor 
threatens. The importance of this question must be deeply felt 
by every man of the most ordinary ability, who has been pre 
viously instructed as to the holiness that lies in the idea of duty, 
but who has not yet ascended to the investigation of the notion 
of freedom, which first arises from this law ; ] (57) and even the 
incomprehensibility of this capacity, a capacity which proclaims 

1 That the conception of freedom of the elective will does not precede 
the consciousness of the moral law in us, but is only inferred from the 


a Divine origin, must rouse his spirit to enthusiasm, and 
strengthen it for any sacrifices which respect for this duty may 
impose on him. The frequent excitement of .this feeling of the 
sublimity of a man s moral constitution is especially to be 
recommended as a means of awaking moral sentiments, since it 
operates in direct opposition to the innate propensity to pervert 
the springs in the maxims of our elective will, (53) and tends to 
make unconditional respect for the law the ultimate con 
dition of the admission of all maxims, and so restores the 
original moral subordination of the springs of action, and the 
capacity for good in the human heart in its primitive purity. 

lint is not this restoration by one s own strength directly 
opposed to the thesis of the innate corruption of man for every 
thing good ? Undoubtedly, as far as conceivability is concerned, 
that is to say, our discernment of its possibility, just as with 
everything which has to be regarded as an event in time (change) 
and as such necessarily determined by laws of nature, whilst its 
opposite must yet be regarded as possible by freedom in accord 
ance with moral laws ; but it is not opposed to the possibility of 
this restoration itself. For if the moral law commands that we 
shall now be better men, it follows inevitably that we also can be 
better. The thesis of innate evil has no application in dogmatic 
morality ; for its precepts contain the very same duties, and con 
tinue in the same force, whether there is in us an innate pro- 

determinability of our will by this law. as an unconditional command, 
anyone may readily be convinced (57) by asking himself whether he is 
immediately certain of a faculty enabling him by firmness of purpose to 
overcome every motive to transgression, however powerful (Phalaris licet 
hnperct tit sis Ftdsux, et adinoto dictet perjuria <aiwo). Everyone must 
confess that he does not kno>n whether in such a case he would not be 
shaken in his purpose. Nevertheless, duty commands him uncon 
ditionally ; thou shalt remain true to it ; and hence he justly concludes 
that he must also be able, and that accordingly his will is free. Those 
who fallaciously represent this inscrutable property as quite compre 
hensible create an illusion by the word determinism (the thesis that the 
elective will is determined by internal sufficient reasons), as if the 
difficulty consisted in reconciling this with freedom, which no one 
supposes ; the difficulty is, how predetcrminism, by which voluntary 
actions as events have their determining causes in preceding time (which 


pensity to transgression or not. In the culture of morality this 
thesis has more significance, but still it means no more than 
this, that in the moral cultivation of the moral capacity for 
good created in us, we cannot begin from a natural state oi 
innocence, but must start from the supposition of a depravity 
of the elective will in assuming maxims that are contrary to 
the original moral capacity, and, since the propensity thereto is 
ineradicable, with an unceasing effort against it. Now, as this 
only leads to a progress in infinitum from bad to better, it 
follows that the transformation of the disposition of a bad into 
that of a good man is to be placed in the change of the supreme 
inner principle of all his maxims, in accordance with the moral 
law, provided that this new principle (the new heart) be itselt 
immutable. A man cannot, however, naturally attain the 
conviction [that it is immutable], either by immediate con 
sciousness, (59) or by the proof derived from the course of life he 
has hitherto pursued, for the bottom of his heart (the sub 
jective first principle of his maxims) is inscrutable to himself : 
but unto the path that leads to it, and which is pointed out to 
him by a fundamentally improved disposition, he must be able 
to hope to arrive by his own efforts, since he ought to become a 
good man and can only be esteemed morally good by virtue of 
that which can be imputed to him as done by himself. 

Now, reason, which is naturally disinclined to moral effort. 

with what it contains is no longer in our power), can be consistent with 
freedom, by which both the action itself and its opposite must be in the 
power of the subject at the moment of its taking place ; this is what men 
want to discern and never will be able to discern. 

There is no difficulty. in reconciling the conception of freedom with the 
idea of God as a nece*&iry being ; for freedom does not consist in tin- 
contingency of the action (that it is not determined by reasons at all), that 
is, not in determinism (that it must be equally possible for God to do 
good or evil, if His action is to be called free), but in absolute spontaneity, 
which alone is endangered by predeterminisin, which places the deter 
mining principle of the action in preceding time, so that the action is now 
no longer in my power, but in the hands of nature, and I am irresistibly 
determined ; and since succession in time is not to be conceived in God, 
this difficulty disappears. 


opposes to this expectation of self-improvemen tall sorts of 
corrupt ideas of religion, under the pretext of natural impotence 
(among which is to be reckoned, attributing to God Himself the 
adoption of the principle of happiness as the supreme condition 
if His commands). Now we may divide all religions into two 
classes -favour-sefldtig religion (mere worship), and //>///// 
religion, that is, the religion of </ood life. By the former a 
man either Hatters himself that God can make him eternally 
happy (by remission of his demerits), without his having any 
need to Ir-comc a better man, or if this does not seem possible to 
him, that God can mole him a bcf.fri- man, without his having to 
d<> anything in the matter himself except to c*k for it : which, 
as before an all-seeing being asking is no more than ?/////////, 
would in fact be doing nothing; for if the mere wish were 
sufficient, every man would be good. But in the moral religion 
(and amongst all the public religions that have ever exist*" 1 the 
Christian alone is moral) it is a fundamental principle that 
everyone must do as much as lies in his power to become a 
better man, and that it is only when he has not buried his 
innate talent (Luke xix. 12-16), when he has used the original 
capacity for good so as to become a better man, that he can 
hope that what is not in his power will be supplied by a higher 
co-operation. But it is not absolutely necessary that man 
should know in what this co-operation consists ; (GO) perhaps it 
is even inevitable that if the way in which it happens had been 
revealed at a certain time, different men at another time should 
form different conceptions of it, and that with all honesty. But 
then the principle holds good: "it is not essential, and therefore 
not necessary for everyone to know what God does or has done 
for his salvation," but it is essential to know n-kat Jte himaclf 
lift* to do in order to bo worthy <>f this assistance. 1 

1 [There is appended in the original a long note (tirst added in the 
second edition) on the relation between the preceding general remark 
and the corresponding remarks appended to the other three sections of 
the Philosophical Theory of Reliyion. As these sections are not here 
translated, the note has been omitted.] 



IN the work called France, for the year 1797, Part VI., No. 1, on 
Political Reactions, by Benjamin Constant, the following passage 
occurs, p. 123 : 

" The moral principle that it is one s duty to speak the truth, if 
it were taken singly and unconditionally, would make all society 
impossible. We have the proof of this in the very direct conse 
quences which have been drawn from this principle by a German 
philosopher, who goes so far as to affirm that to tell a falsehood to a 
murderer who asked us whether our friend, of whom he was in 
pursuit, had not taken refuge in our house, Avould be a crime." 

The French philosopher opposes this principle in the following 
manner, p. 124 : "It is a duty to tell the truth. The notion of 
duty is inseparable from the notion of right. A duty is what in one 
being corresponds to the right of another. Where there are no rights 
there are no duties. To tell the truth then is a duty, but only 
towards him who has a right to the truth. But no man has a right 
to a truth that injures others." The irpurov i/^vSos here lies in the 
statement that " To tell the truth is a duty, but only towards him who 
has a right to the truth." 

It is to be remarked, first, that the expression "to have a right 
to the truth " is unmeaning. We should rather say, a man has a 

1 [Rosenkranz, vol. vii., p. 295. This Essay was published in a Berlin 
periodical in 1797.] 

2 "J. D. Michaelis, in Gottingen, propounded the same strange 
opinion even before Kant. That Kant is the philosopher here referred 
to, I have been informed by the author of this work himself. "- 

1 I hereby admit that I have really said this in some place which I cannot now recollect. 


right to his own truthfulness (veracitas), that is, to subjective truth 
in his own person. For to have a right objectively to truth would 
mean that, as in meum and tuum generally, it depends on his will 
whether a given statement shall be true or false, which would pro 
duce a singular logic. 

Xow, the first question is whether a man in cases where he 
cannot avoid answering Yes or No has the right to be untruthful. 
The second question is whether, in order to prevent a misdeed that 
threatens him or some one else, he is not actually bound to be 
untruthful in a certain statement to which an unjust compulsion 
forces him. 

Truth in utterances that cannot be avoided is the formal duty of 
a man to everyone, 1 however great the disadvantage that may arise 
from it to him or any other ; and although by making a false state 
ment I do no wrong to him who unjustly compels me to speak, yet I 
do wrong to men in general in the most essential point of duty, so 
that it may be called a lie (though not in the jurist s sense), that is, 
so far as in me lies I cause that declarations in general find no credit, 
and hence that all rights founded on contract should lose their force ; 
and this is a wrong which is done to mankind. 

If, then, we define a lie merely as an intentionally false declara 
tion towards another man, we need not add that it must injure 
another; as the jurists think proper to put in their definition (men- 
dacium est falsiloquium in praejudicium alterius). For it always 
injures another; if not another individual, yet mankind generally, 
since it vitiates the source of justice* This benevolent lie may, how 
ever, by accident (casus] become punishable even by civil laws ; and 
that which escapes liability to punishment only by accident may be 
condemned as a wrong even by external laws. For instance, if you 
have by a lie hindered a man who is even now planning a murder, 
you are legally responsible for all the consequences. (v But if you 
have strictly adhered to the truth, public justice can find no fault 
with you, be the unforeseen consequence what it may. 11 It is possible 
that whilst you have honestly answered Yes to the murderer s 
question, whether his intended victim is in the house, the latter may 

1 I do not wish here to press this principle so far as to say that "false 
hood is a violation of duty to oneself." For this principle belongs to 
Ethics, and here we are speaking only of a duty of justice. Ethics look 
in this transgression only to the worthlessness, the reproach of which the 
liar draws on himself. 


have gone out unobserved, and so not have come in the way of the 
murderer, and the deed therefore have not been done ; whereas, if 
you lied and said he was not in the house, and he had really gone 
out (though unknown to you), so that the murderer met him as he 
went, and executed his purpose on him, then you might with justice 
be accused as the cause of his death. For, if you had spoken the 
truth as well as you knew it, perhaps the murderer while seeking 
for his enemy in the house might have been caught by neighbours 
coming up and the deed been prevented. Whoever then tells a lie, 
however good his intentions may be, must answer for the conse 
quences of it, even before the civil tribunal, and must pay the 
penalty for them, however unforeseen they may have been ; because 
truthfulness is a duty that must be regarded as the basis of all duties 
founded on contract, the laws of which would be rendered uncertain 
and useless if even the least exception to them were admitted. * 

To be truthful (honest) in all declarations is therefore a sacred 
unconditional command of reason, and not to be limited by any 

M. Constant makes a thoughtful and sound remark on the 
decrying of such strict principles, which it is alleged lose themselves 
in impracticable ideas, and are therefore to be rejected (p. 123) : 
" In every case in which a principle proved to be true seems to be 
inapplicable, it is because \ve do not know the middle principle which 
contains the medium of its application." He adduces (p. 121) the 
doctrine of equality as the first link forming the social chain (p. 121) : 
" namely, that no man can be bound by any laws except those to the 
formation of which he has contributed. In a very contracted society 
this principle may be directly applied and become the ordinary rule 
without requiring any middle principle. But in a very numerous 
society we must add a new principle to that which we here state. 
This middle principle is, that the individuals may contribute to the 
formation of the laws either in their own person or by representatives. 
Whoever would try to apply the first principle to a numerous society 
without taking in the middle principle would infallibly bring about 
its destruction. But this circumstance, which would only show the 
ignorance or incompetence of the lawgiver, would prove nothing 
against the principle itself." He concludes (p. 125) thus: "A 
principle recognized as truth must, therefore, never be abandoned, 
however obviously danger may seem to be involved in it." (And 
yet the good man himself abandoned the unconditional principle of 


veracity on account of the danger to society, because he could not 
discover any middle principle which would serve to prevent this 
danger; and, in fact, no such principle is to he interpolated here.) 

Retaining the names of the persons as they have been here 
brought forward, "the French philosopher" confounds the action 
by which one does harm (nocef) to another by telling the truth, the 
admission of which he cannot avoid, with the action by which he 
does him wrong (ladif). It was merely an accident (casus) that the 
truth of the statement did harm to the inhabitant of the house ; it 
was not a free deed (in the juridical sense). For to admit his right 
to require another to tell a lie for his benefit would be to admit a 
claim opposed to all law. Every man has not only a right, but the 
strictest duty to truthfulness in statements which he cannot avoid, 
whether they do harm to himself or others. He himself, properly 
speaking, docs not do harm to him who suffers thereby; but this 
harm is caused by accident. For the man is not free to choose . since 
(if he must speak at all) veracity is an unconditional duty. The 
"German philosopher" will therefore not adopt as his principle the 
proposition (p. 124) : " It is a duty to speak the truth, but only to 
him who has a rigid to the truth," first on account of the obscurity of 
the expression, for truth is not a possession the right to which can 
be granted to one, and refused to another ; and next and chiefly, 
because the duty of veracity (of which alone we are speaking here) 
makes no distinction between persons towards whom we have this 
duty, and towards whom we may be free from it ; but is an uncon 
ditional duty which holds in all circumstances. 

Now, in order to proceed from a metaphysic of Right (which 
abstracts from all conditions of experience) to a principle of politics 
(which applies these notions to cases of experience), and by means of 
this to the solution of a problem of the latter in accordance with the 
general principle of right, the philosopher will enunciate: 1. An 
Axiom, that is, an apodictically certain proposition, which follows 
directly from the definition of external right (harmony of the freedom 
of each with the freedom of all by a universal law). 2. A Postulate 
of external public law as the united will of all on the principle of 
equality, without which there could not exist the freedom of all. 
3. A Problem ; how it is to be arranged that harmony may be main 
tained in a society, however large, on principles of freedom and 
equality (namely, by means of a representative system) ; and thi> will 
then become a principle of the political system, the establishment and 


arrangement of which will contain enactments which, drawn from 
practical knowledge of men, have in view only the mechanism of 
administration of justice, and how this is to be suitably carried out. 
Justice must never be accommodated to the political system, but 
always the political system to justice. 

"A principle recognized as true (I add, recognized a priori, and 
therefore apodictic) must never be abandoned, however obviously 
danger may seem to be involved in it," says -the author. Only here 
we must not understand the danger of doing harm (accidentally), but 
of doing wrong ; and this would happen if the duty of veracity, which 
is quite unconditional, and constitutes the supreme condition of 
justice in utterances, were made conditional and subordinate to other 
considerations ; and, although by a certain lie I in fact do no wrong 
to any person, yet I infringe the principle of justice in regard to all 
indispensably necessary statements generally (I do wrong formally, 
though not materially) ; and this is much worse than to commit an 
injustice to any individual, because such a deed does not presuppose 
any principle leading to it in the subject. The man who, Avhen 
asked whether in the statement he is about to make he intends to 
speak truth or not, does not receive the question with indignation at 
the suspicion thus expressed towards him that he might be a liar, 
but who asks permission first to consider possible exceptions, is 
already a liar (in potentia], since he shows that he does not recognize 
veracity as a duty in itself, but reserves exceptions from a rule which 
in its nature does not admit of exceptions, since to do so would be 
self -contradictory . 

All practical principles of justice must contain strict truths, and 
the principles here called middle principles can only contain the closer 
definition of their application to actual cases (according to the rules 
of politics), and never exceptions from them, since exceptions destroy 
the universality, on account of which alone they bear the name of 


There is no can us necessitates except in the case where an uncondi 
tional duty conflicts with a duty which, though perhaps great, is yet 
conditional; e.g. if the question is about preserving the State from 
disaeter by betraying a person who stands towards another in a 


relation such as, for example, that of father and son. To save the 
State from harm is an unconditional duty ; to save an individual is 
only a conditional duty, namely, provided he has not been guilty of a 
crime against the State. The information given to the authorities 
may be given with the greatest reluctance, but it is given under 
pressure, namely, moral necessity. But if a shipwrecked man 
thrusts another from his plank in order to save his own life, and it 
is said that he had the right of necessity (i.e. physical necessity) to 
do so, this is wholly false. For to maintain my own life is only a 
conditional duty (viz. if it can be done without crime), but it is an 
unconditional duty not to take the life of another who does not 
injure me, nay, does not even bring me into peril of losing it. 
However, the teachers of general civil right proceed quite con 
sistently in admitting this right of necessity. For the sovereign 
power could not connect any punishment with the prohibition ; for 
this punishment would necessarily be death, but it would be an 
absurd law that would threaten death to a man if when in danger 
he did not voluntarily submit to death. From " Das mag in der 
Theorie richtig seyn, u.s.w." (Rosenkr., vii., p. 211). 

[The two cases here considered were probably suggested by Cicero, 
who quotes them from Hecato, a disciple of Panaetius. De Off. iii. 23.] 


Act, 338. 

Adams, Dr., quoted, 288, note ; 305, 


Analytic and Synthetic, 34, 37, 207. 
Apathy, 319. 
Apodictic, 281. 
Appetite, 267. 
Appetitive Faculty, 265. 
Automaton, 195. 
Autonomy, 51, 59. 

Bad, Concept of, 343. 
Benevolence, 312. 
Bliss, 215, 220, note. 

Categories, 233. 
Categories of Freedom, 157. 
< Categorical Imperative, 31, 33. 

three forms 

of, 39, 47, 49. 
Christian Morality, 224. 
Clarke, Dr., quoted, 304, note. 
Commands, 33. 
Concupiscence, 267. 
Conflict of Duties, 280. 
Conscience, 192, 311, 321. 
Consciousness, Immediate, 71. 
Contentment, 214. 
Counsels, 33. 

Deduction, 274, note. 
Deed, 279. 
f Deontology, 285. 
Depravity, 336. 
Desert, 111, 127. 
Dignity, 53. 
Duty, 16, 52, 58, 279. 

Ego, 71. 

Emotions, 319. 

Ends, Kingdom of, 51. 

Enthusiasm, 320. 

Epicurean Summum bonum, 207, 


Ethics, 290. 

Ethical Legislation, 275, 276. 
Eudsemonism, 61, 124. 
Evil, 151. 

Fanaticism, 233. 
Feeling, 266. 

, Moral, 310. 
Frailty, 336. 
Freedom, 65 

of Elective Will, 268. 

: Difficulty connected with, 


Golden Rule, 48, note. 

Happiness, 35, 221. 

Hearne, quoted, 340. 

Heteronomy, 51, 59. 

Higher and Lower Desires, 109. 

Holiness, 98, note ; 218. 

Holy, 58. 

Horace, 320, 325, 347. 

Hume, 99. 

Hutcheson, 61, 129. 

Immanent, 138, note. 
Imperatives, 30, 106, 278. 
Impurity, 336. 
Imputation, 283. 


Inclination, 30, note ; 43, nole . 

335, note. 

Inclination, Sense free, 267. 
Indifference, Liberty of, 282. 
Inditferentists, 329. 
Innate Guilt, 345. 
Intellectual Intuition, 193, 219. 
Interest, 30, note ; 207. 
of Reason, 21(5. 

Juridical, 275. 

Jurisprudence, Principle of, 307. 

Juvenaf, quoted, 257. 

Kingdom, 51. 

of Nature, 57. 
- of Ends, 51. 

Legality, 269, 275, 282. 

Lessing, 326. 

Life, 265. 

Love, 176, 353, note. 

Material Principles, 129. 
Matter of Faculty of Desire, 107 . 
Maxim, 17, note ; 88, note ; 105, 


Mendelssohn, 195. 
Metaphysic, 272. 

Morality, 52, 58, 220, 269, 275, 282. 
Moral Sense, 61, 128, 213. 
Motive, 45. 

Mundus Intelligibilis, 57. 
Mysticism, 162. 

Nature, Formal Notion of, 57. 

Kingdom of, 57. 

Necessary being, Idea of, 200. 

Noumenon, 210. 

Obligation, 58, 278. 

Passion, 319. 

Paul, St., 268, note. 

Perfect and Imperfect Duties, 39, 

Person, 57, 279. 

Personality, 279, 334. 
Postulate, 99, note ; 219. 
Pragmatic, 34, note. 
Priestley, Dr., 192. 
Primacy, 216. 
Principle, 38, note 105. 
Propension, 43, note ; 335, not -. 
Propensio Intellectuals, 267. 
Prudence, 33, note. 

Reason and Understanding, 7!. 
Reatus, 345. 
Respect, 18, note, 313. 
Rigourists, 329. 
Rochefoucald, 340. 
Rousseau, 326. 
Rules, 33. 

Sanctifi cation, 220, note. 
Sanction, 226. 
Schiller, 330, note. 
Self-love, 353, note. 
Sensibility, 22(i, note. 
Spring, 45. 
Stoics, 151, 207, 223. 
Stoical Morality, 224, note. 
Summum boniun, 203, s>i<[. 
Syncretists, 329. 

Transcendent, 138, note. 
Type of the Moral Law, 16J. 
Typic, 159. 

Value, 53. 
Vaucanson, 195. 
Virtue, 305, 31 U. 

Will, 45, 65. 

Absolutely good, 55. 

- Elective, 268, note. 
Wille and Willkirhr, 268, note.. 
Wisdom, 228. 
Wizennumn, 242. 

World of Sense and of Under 
.stand ing, 7". 








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